Road to Sochi: Team Oakley Athlete of the Week – Stale Sandbech
As many regions brace for the coming of winter, a handful of the world’s elite athletes prepare to compete on sports’ most prestigious global stage. The 2014 Winter Olympics are upon us and the remote region of Sochi, Russia is set to host the twenty-second edition of the biggest winter sporting event in the world. As the days until the Open Ceremony count down, we invite you to get to know some of the most passionate, fearless, determined and awe inspiring athletes, some of whom you will undoubtedly see on the podium come February. Each of these athletes strive to compete in Sochi as representatives of their home nations, but are bound together, despite national boundaries, as members of another exclusive team: #TeamOakley.
This week’s Team Oakley Athlete of the week is one of the most exciting young talents in snowboarding, Stale Sandbech. Though just 20, Stale is one of the top Slopestyle and Big Air riders in the world, with podium finishes at the biggest events in the world. Unlike many of his Slopestyle counterparts, Stale will be an Olympic veteran in Sochi, having competed in Vancouver in halfpipe as the youngest ever athlete to represent Norway. Expect Stale to be one of the top threats to win an Olympic medal in the debut of Slopestyle.
What does it mean to you that you are officially an Olympian and will be representing Norway this winter in Sochi?
It’s a big deal to me being one of the dudes getting a spot for Norway because we have such a sick group of snowboarders trying to get those spots.
At what point did you set your sights on becoming an Olympian? When did you realize that goal was realistic?
I guess a year or so before the Vancouver Olympics I figured that I had a chance of making the Norwegian pipe team if I qualified, which I did. I never really had the biggest goal of going to the Olympics before that. My dream was always to make it into X Games.
What is your favorite Olympic moment (personal or historic)?
Heikki Sorsa’s pipe run with that RAD mohawk. Pretty much the only strong memory I had from watching the Olympics.
What was your reaction when you learned that Slopestyle was being added to the Olympics?
It was both good and bad. Was not sure what it would do to snowboarding; if it would be positive or not. Let’s hope we are lucky with the weather and the course is good so we can show the world what we are doing.
Do you anticipate competing at the Olympics to be much different from X Games or Dew Tour or any other event on your schedule? Does the magnitude of the event weigh on you at all?
The contest in itself, I don’t think will be different at all, but everything going on around it will be a lot different I’m sure, which I know from the last Olympics. Plus, it is in Russia.
What do you hope that the mega Olympic audience takes away from seeing both snowboard Halfpipe and Slopestyle?
I hope we get good weather and good conditions so we can do what we do, and hopefully it will be the most interesting thing at the whole Olympics and more people will keep following up on snowboarding and get out there shredding!
For more on Stale Sandbech, check out his Oakley bio.