At 35-years-old, Nate Holland is the senior athlete on the U.S. Snowboarding squad going to the Winter Olympics in Sochi. After finishing a frustrating fourth at the 2010 Vancouver Games, Holland vowed to return to seek redemption, and a medal, in the next Olympics. Holland was born and raised in Sandpoint, Idaho. He now owns a house in Truckee, Calif., but travels so much that he says he lives out of his suitcase much of the time. In the summer, Holland and his younger brother (also a pro snowboarder) operate a seasonal business on Lake Pend d'Oreille called Action Water Sports, which offers rentals and wakeboard and water ski lessons.
Hometown: Squaw Valley, Calif. and Sandpoint, Idaho
His sport: Snowboarding
Birthdate: November 8, 1978
Stats: Holland enters the Sochi Games on a high note having won gold at the final Olympic tune-up event, the Winter X Games in Aspen. The 2014 X Games victory was the seventh for this veteran snowboarder, who got his start riding on Schweitzer Mountain in North Idaho. Holland has competed at the Olympics twice before. At the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver, he finished fourth in men's snowboardcross. In 2006 in Torino, he placed 14th in the Olympic debut of the event.
Holland on the 2014 Sochi Games: "It's definitely a little bit different than, say my first Olympics in Torino where I didn't know exactly what to expect," says Holland. "With Sochi, I am a little bit more focused on what I have to do and my job there." He says he is motivated by the disappointments of prior Olympics. "I don't have an Olympic medal. Luckily, here I am going to Sochi. I gave myself another opportunity," Holland says.
How has he prepared for these Olympics?: "I basically started at the bottom of the barrel, in my mind, in December," says Holland. The athlete crashed and broke his clavicle on the initial training run of the first Olympic qualifying race of the season in Austria. He had surgery right away and started a quick comeback that earned him a slot on the U.S. Olympic squad. "It wasn't the way I designed this year to go. However, I am riding well and I trust in my riding," Holland concludes.
The viewer-friendly event of snowboardcross is often compared to motocross or roller derby on snow. Four to six athletes start at the same time in a race to the bottom on a winding, banked course with various jumps and drops.
"It's action packed. There can be carnage for sure," Holland says. But he insists the competitors don't deliberately try to bump and throw elbows. "We're actually trying not to touch each other," because that slows you down.