Simon Dumont has had a long and storied ski career. At age 14 in 2002, he competed in his first X Games. In 2008, he set a new world record on a quarter pipe jump. In 2011, he designed and skied an infamous cubed pipe at Squaw Valley, Calif. He's won 10 X Games medals over the years and starred in countless ski movies. He's a seasoned competitor in a sport full of young up-and-comers, and even now, at age 26, he's still sitting on top: In January, he earned a bronze medal in Ski SuperPipe at X Games Aspen. We caught up with Dumont recently at his event, the Dumont Cup held annually at Sunday River in Maine, to talk about his approach to competition, why he likes rally car racing, and his goals for the upcoming debut of ski halfpipe at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
You've been competing in the X Games and other world-class events since 2002, when you were 14 years old. At 26, you're still earning medals. How have you stayed at the top of your game for so long? What's your secret?
It has been a lot of hard work. I think a lot of people just see skiing as fun, but I've looked at it a lot differently. For one, I'm a personal brand, so I look at it from a business perspective. This is my job, so I do a lot to ensure longevity. I'm going to the gym and working super hard when I'm not skiing. At X Games this year in Tignes, I'd wake up, eat breakfast, go do a half-hour spin bike session, go to physical therapy and work on that for a half an hour, then go back to the spin bike, back to the gym, and then I'd go skiing. So it's an all-day thing. It's not like I'm just waiting around to go skiing -- it is a business. At the same time, it is fun.
Let's talk about the mental side of things. What is this sport like for you, mentally and emotionally?
Well, I've had a lot of adversity. I've had a lot of injuries, so that makes the mental part one of the toughest parts for me. I know I'm there physically, I know I have the talent, it just starts to come down to a question of how long can you keep your brain sharp, how much can you give to skiing before it takes everything away from you? When I get injured, though, I don't think about it like anything that's going to stop me. I just think, OK, I'm going to come back after this twice as strong as before. As you get older, it does take more time to come back from these things, so in the last year I sat down and said, 'All right, do you want to do this? Do you want to make it to the Olympics?' I would love to make it to the Olympics. I've done well in so many different things and the Olympics is my last push, so I quit drinking, I'm going to stay completely focused and go to the gym, so if the Olympics don't go my way, I don't have any excuses.
How do you feel less than a year out from your sport's Olympic debut?
So far, this year was tough. I blew my ACL and was out for nine months, came back and skied for two weeks, crashed, and shattered both my wrists, so I was out for another month and a half. I had no time to train, no time to learn new tricks. Then I went to the X Games in Aspen and got third, so mentally that got me to where I needed to be. That told me that I could go out there and compete with these kids. Also, I've never just focused on halfpipe -- I've always done slopestyle, big air, filming, so for the next year, I'm just going to focus on halfpipe and halfpipe only.
You've said that you want people to remember your performance at the Olympics, medal or not. What can we expect from you at Sochi?
I have some ideas, but I really just want to go big, put down a good run, and let people know I'm competitive. I feel like there's going to be a little bit of hype around me just because I am one of the only guys that has been there from the beginning and I'm still going to the Olympics, so I think there will be a little bit of pressure but I'm hoping to put on a good show. I'm going for a medal, though -- I think I've got it in me.
After the Olympics, what does the future hold for you? Are you thinking about retiring?
Who knows? I mean, if I go to the Olympics and I do well, why would I want to call it quits? I'd pick and choose my contests. I'd probably still do X Games because I love the vibe there, probably a Dew Tour event. I'd like to focus on filming, maybe some driving stuff.
I heard you started rally racing.
Yeah, I'm not going to claim it, but I've rallied a little bit. There are other aspects, other business ventures that I've got in mind, too. I have my own restaurant right now [Dumont is part-owner of Flounders on the Beach, in Englewood, Fla.]. I feel that for a lot of younger athletes, they don't always look at the bigger picture. I don't really want my lifestyle to change, so I'm setting myself up to make sure that doesn't happen.
I also heard that you were thinking about becoming a sports agent at some point down the road.
I like the idea, I feel like I understand the market, I understand market value. Some of these kids, they win a contest but they don't know what they deserve afterward. As an agent, you can help mold these kids, put them in the right direction. My relationship with my agent, he's like a father figure. I came in at 14, I was stupid and he told me what I should do, where I should go, gave me direction. That's crucial for an agent. I could be interested in something like that. Having the experience that I've had, I think that a lot of athletes would gravitate to it. But there are [a lot of] things being talked about right now. I'm trying to make sure I've got six to 10 options for my future, so I can go whatever direction I want. I don't want to be left high and dry.