Kevin Pearce Pro Spotlight

By Joel Muzzey

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Photo: Cole Barash

By every measure, Kevin Pearce is a contest kid. As we push toward the Olympics in Vancouver, Pearce stands squarely atop the list of American medal hopefuls for halfpipe. But as snowboarders, we should ask ourselves why the best competitive riders in the sport are still coldly referred to as “contest” guys? Are they and the contests they do part of some less-cool substrata of shredding? Hell, no. Since the earliest days, competitions have fueled technical progression and built up the framework of what we’ve come to know as “pro snowboarding.” To be at the top competitively right now is a serious affair. It takes discipline, physical stamina, and mental fortitude, to say nothing of the freakin’ tricks. And all these things take a hell of a lot more work than our collective “ride pow with my bros” ideal. Fact is, the contest haters are riders who wouldn’t make it through the first round of qualifiers. So, as we head into the Olympic Games, let’s show some solidarity as shredders and give these “contest guys” their due. Pearce is killing it right now, and someday, when he walks away from the contest circuit for powder pursuits, he’ll be your favorite backcountry dude, so you might as well start backing him now.

Do you have any pre-contest rituals or superstitions?
I’m not really superstitious or anything, but I do like to get onto a regimented schedule before a contest. Like, do the same thing every day—going up to the hill at the same time; if I have a set plan and stick to it for a few days, I feel like it gets me in the zone. And when I do that, I compete a lot better. Making sure I get up early, get to practice on time—they never give us enough practice—and get a good warm-up is important. There’s so much waiting around at contests these days, like the X Games and Dew Tours. Unfortunately, I haven’t really found a great way to deal with all that waiting around yet …

That waiting must mess with you.
Yeah, especially after practice, you get in this rhythm of taking all these runs and you’re all stoked and you got your energy flowing, and then they’re like, “Okay, sit around for a half hour.” I’m like, “What am I supposed to do now?” Sure, I can stand around with my buddies and rap out with them, but we want to go and ride—and do this. It’s tough when you’re in it, then you gotta wait around—try to warm yourself back up … it kinda sucks.