Caught Up with Mercedes Nicoll
Words By: Jess Roy
Photos By: Rami Hanafi

Our friendly neighbor to the North contributes a lot to our everyday lives: a better appreciation for hockey, Molson, and the lovely Mercedes Nicoll. The Whistler native, who moonlights as a California girl, keeps herself busy following the snow, and travelling on the international contest circuit. We got a chance to check in with Canada’s sweetheart (she’s one of those spicy cinnamon ones) to see what she’s been up to lately.

You don’t like to tell people that you’re an Olympian, so I try to take every chance I get to do it for you. How is the ‘ultimate’ contest different than others?
Well, it’s the hardest contest to qualify for. I didn’t realize how much the contest actually meant to me until I fell during my run in Torino. The craziest part is getting to see all the other events and athletes, and just being there for the opening ceremonies. You don’t really grasp what a big deal it is until you get there, and actually experience being at the Olympics. I’d say that the two biggest contests are the Olympics and the X-games, but the Olympics is more about having a huge amount of pride to represent your country.

What’s your daily training schedule/regimen?
I don’t have a strict routine. I like to get a work out in every day whether it’s going for a jog or to the gym, or lifting weights. I just try to ride as much as possible.

The road to the Olympics is a long one. Can you describe the process of what it takes to get there? When does it start?
We started this year in January at the World Championships in Korea.  There are five contests where you either have to place within the top five twice, or your next best three results get tallied up against the boarder-crossers and the racers. The overall best results get to go. There are eighteen spots total for all of the disciplines. A total of ten out of the eighteen have to be one gender, like ten guys and eight girls or vice versa.

That sounds tough, how are you doing so far?
So far, this season I have a 6th place from the World Cup at Stoneham in Quebec. The rest of the contests are all next season: starting with the Grand Prix at Copper, World cup at Stoneham in 2010 and Boreal 2010.

What will be the best thing about having the Olympic games in your hometown, and can I come?
I know the food will be better! And I get to have my family there with me. Yes, you can come.

Great. I’ll bring my “I heart Mercedes” sign.
Do you feel a certain pressure to perform because of it?

Yeah I’ve been having a really tough season, but it’s because I’ve put so much pressure on myself. I need to try to focus more on the contests individually, and use them as steps toward the bigger goal of the Olympics. Sometimes it’s easy to be overwhelmed by such a huge goal. It’s the most pressure I’ve ever felt, but I’m trying to work on relaxing to relieve some of the tension.

Is there anything you’re trying to do to focus more?
I definitely have to listen to music when I’m riding. I tried to see what would happen if I didn’t, and it totally screwed me up.

You’ve been known for some interesting music choices during your contest runs. What is your favorite pick right now? I know you love Pink….
There are two new good songs!! [very excited] I love the both the new Pink and Lily Allen albums. ‘Bad Influence’ by Pink is my favorite right now.

What goes into selecting the perfect song?
They have to be upbeat or else I can’t listen to them. That’s pretty much it.

Didn’t you get to meet her in Mammoth?
No, but I saw her out twice! I was too nervous to make a move and approach her, and didn’t want to bother her. It was still sweet though.

Let’s talk about the two seemingly opposite extremes: your life in Mammoth vs. Whistler.
Well, it’s sunny in Mammoth. It will dump 3 feet, and then be sunny right after. Whistler is a fog town, and you’re super lucky to get a bluebird week. I have great friends in both places. My friends in Whistler are more from high school, and my family is there. In Mammoth I just have a good crew of people from all aspects of snowboarding. I never want to leave when I’m there!

Your tour on the contest circuit keeps you busier than Britney. How do you balance a ‘normal’ life?
I try to get home to see my family as much as I can. I have to follow the snow, so I don’t make it back as much as I’d like to. We do get to take some sweet trips together though. Last summer we took a ‘family vacation’ to Europe for a reunion. That was the best. Most of my friends don’t see me during the winter, but I’m really good at iChat! So, that’s how I try to stay in touch. And, just throwing it out there, I’m single and ready to mingle.

Favorite contest?
Fiesta de la Pipa, definitely. It’s on May 5th in Mammoth. It’s just the most chill and all about fun. No stress. Just ride, and have a good time with friends.

What’s usually your last thought before dropping in for a run?
I tell myself I can do it. I’ve done it before. I can do it this time.

Of all the places you have to go for ‘work’, where has the best/worst food?
Japan has the best. Korea, and the Olympics last year were the worst.

Really? Even in Italy?
Yeah, it was the Olympic village food, cafeteria style.

Most people don’t know that you’re a water baby. Any plans to pick up surfing when you’re done shredding?
Oh I don’t know about that. I suck at surfing so I’d definitely love to learn to get better! I do love, love, love the water though, so I’m sure there is a beach in my future.

Shoutouts?
Mammoth Mountain, Flow, IS Design, Ogio, POW, Powder Room, Mum and Papa.. and all my friends xoxo.