Ross Powers – Olympic Gold Medalist Snowboarder

Ross Powers is a world champion halfpipe snowboarder hailing from Peru, Vermont. Powers began snowboarding at an early age and he competed in his first US open when he was only 9 years old. A day after his 23 birthday, he lead the US sweep at the 2002 Winter Olympics, bringing home the gold in the men's halfpipe competition. In 2004, he won the Mt Bachelor Grand Prix, and he continues to compete regularly in the Vans Cup, the US and European Opens of Snowboarding, and the X-Games.
Off the slopes, Powers helps run the Ross Powers Foundation, a charitable organization that provides grants for up-and-coming young athletes. He currently serves as the Snowboard Ambassador for the Okemo Mountain Resort, where he also operates a snowboarding camp.
We caught up with Ross Powers in the middle of a trip to South America.
How did you first become interested in snowboarding?
I first became interested in snowboarding when I saw some lift attendants coming down on their boards at the end of the day. I was into skate boarding at the time and had seen some pictures in the mags. My Mom got me a board for Christmas and I fell in love with riding.
What was it like to grow up in Vermont? What advantages do you think it gave to you?
Growing up in Vermont was great. I loved sports growing up and the season changes are great for different sports. The advantages Vermont gave me was it was and still is an area that has a good snowboard scene. There were a bunch of pros around when I grew up, Burton was down the road in Manchester, there was a great competition series called the Green Mountain Series which is now the Southern Vermont Series, there are many ski/snowboard academies where people come from all around the world to train at and a bunch of great mountains to ride that are helping push the sport by building great pipes and parks like Okemo Mountain.
When did you start to compete professionally? What kind of training did you have to go through to get to that level?
I won nationals when I was 15 and made the US Snowboard team. The next season I traveled the world competing and won a few world cups. I was going to SMS (Stratton Mountain School) so I was training there with Scott Palmer on and off the mountain. I was also training and competing with the US Team so I was a busy guy.
What do you attribute to your success on the slopes?
I attribute much of my success to putting in the time. I loved snowboarding and rode as much as possible. I'd go to work with my mom at the mountain when I was a kid and snowboard the whole day every weekend and holidays. Also, Vermont has great riders, events and mountains.
How did the Ross Powers Foundation begin?
The Ross Powers Foundation supports athletes with financial need so they can follow their dreams and have a fair chance. We are trying to level the playing field. I started the Ross Powers Foundation with help from my friend Peter Carlisle around 2000.
Can you tell us about the work you do at the Ross Powers Snowboard Camp?
The Ross Powers Snowboard Camp is a camp I run that brings snowboarders together to improve their riding, meet friends and to enjoy the sport of snowboarding. This year I plan to do a camp at Okemo Mountain and Mt Sunapee (New Hampshire). Please go to their websites to check in on the dates (,
Where's your favorite place to snowboard in Vermont?
My favorite place to Snowboard in Vermont is Okemo Mountain. Okemo is a great mountain that has it all from a Great Halfpipe/Park to snowboard programs for my daughter.
What do you think has been the proudest moment on your career?
The proudest moment of my career was winning the gold at the 2002 Olympic. It was an amazing day, I did the biggest air ever done in a halfpipe, I swept the podium with my teammates and my family was there.
Do you have any advice for aspiring athletes?
Keep putting in the time. The more time you put in the better you'll become. Work hard but remember to have fun. Find a good group of friends or a team that will push you while having a good time.
And finally - what are you listening to on your iPod?
I like all kinds of music. I'd say my favorite are the Beastie Boys.