Simon Dumont hopes to recover for Olympics
Simon Dumont has lived out of a Utah hotel room for three months.
He reads books -- he figures about 20 in the last couple of months -- to pass the time, and hasn't seen his girlfriend in a month and a half.
His days all go the same. Wake up. Bike 20 to 30 miles. Lift weights for four hours, do physical therapy for two hours at the U.S. ski team's training facility on the outskirts of Park City. Head back to the hotel. Rinse. Repeat.
While other pro freeskiers started their World Cup season in August and are putting together video edits south of the equator, Dumont is rehabbing a busted ankle. Last winter, it was two broken wrists. And the time before that, a torn ACL.
The injuries blend together into a two-year-long nightmare of misfortune and frustration for the former X Games champion as he fights to return to his skis healthy and finish what he came for: a spot on the Olympic podium in February when ski halfpipe makes its Olympic debut in Sochi, Russia.
"I'm in a weird place," admits Dumont. "I'm not in the same competitive mindset that I'm usually in."
Last year, the Maine native returned to X Games six weeks after wrist surgery. The 11 pins and three screws in his forearms made holding poles impossible, so he stomped his run without them, earning a bronze medal.
But Dumont's heart never made the trip to Aspen. "I was so over skiing at that point. I had just come off the ACL and then broke both wrists. I felt like I couldn't get a break," he says. "I didn't even want to be there. I've never been so low mentally in my entire life."
The low came two years after Dumont's career hit seemingly untouchable heights. In less than a decade, he collected 10 X Games medals, a World Championship title, an AFP overall championship and a world-record quarterpipe hit. And, as if that cap needed a feather, Dumont was one of the figureheads of the historic 2011 coalition that vaulted slopestyle and halfpipe skiing into the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Now the former world champion finds himself battling for a spot on the U.S. halfpipe team he helped create. In a sport that evolves at light speed, his months away from the sport allowed a changing of the guard, the icy 22-foot walls now owned by youngsters such as Torin Yater-Wallace and Aaron Blunck -- skiers nearly 10 years younger than 27-year-old Dumont.
My big goal is the Olympics, but I still need to achieve the little things to feel successful.Simon Dumont
"I'm more than willing to help those kids," says Dumont. "I've definitely done a lot of things right, and I know where I've done things wrong."
While he seems willing to embrace a mentor role on the team, his competitive drive still wants a crack at the Olympic dream he helped bring to fruition. After breaking his ankle on an airbag jump in May, Dumont underwent surgery and moved from his home in Colorado to Park City, Utah, to rehabilitate at the U.S. ski team's Center of Excellence.
Through regimented physical therapy, Dumont says he's in the best shape of his life, even shooting a cover with Muscle & Performance magazine last month.
"I'm not thinking about the Olympics yet … right now the goal is to start running," says Dumont. "My big goal is the Olympics, but I still need to achieve the little things to feel successful. Hopefully those little things can get me where I need to be; hopefully then I can take one home from Russia."
Whether Dumont can climb back is a question of time, but one thing is for certain: This will be Dumont's last Olympic push. The Games have been the motivation driving his recovery but also a huge weight to bear.
After the Olympics, he says he's ready to get back to his first love -- filming.
"Halfpipe is a job. All the other stuff is fun," says Dumont. "I can't wait for this one to be over."