Name: Mercedes Nicoll
Event: Snowboard Halfpipe
Age at 2006 Olympics: 22
Years with National Team: 4
What’s your biggest trick?
Right now it’s back-to-back 540s, frontside to backside, but I’m working on making them 720s.
How do you get ready for a competition?
I wake up, I have breakfast – sometimes – and I try to get to the competition a little bit early. Once I’m there I just try to have fun, talk to the others, and stay relaxed. Mentally, I have the best time when I’m joking around and having a good time with my friends.
Do you listen to music when riding, and what are you listening to?
I listen to everything, but not during a competition – I’m not one of those riders that sits and listens to music, I’d rather be walking around and talking to people.
Do you remember your first snowboard?
It was a Sims All-Mountain. I was 13 or 14 and I just moved back home to Whistler. All my friends were snowboarding and I took it up, just for fun. (The friends) are all in university, but we still get to ride together sometimes.
What is your worst injury?
Normally it’s the tears and rips in my ankles and shoulders. They all take a long time to heal, and when you can’t snowboard it feels like forever. You want to get back riding but you can’t. So far it’s just been a lot of little things, so I’m pretty lucky compared to some members of the team.
What do you like about halfpipe?
I like it because it’s really different, and it seems like you get a lot more air in. For some people it’s scary, but I definitely like the feel of riding up the transitions, soaring into the air and getting that weightless feeling before coming down again.
What advice do you give kids starting out and who might want to compete on the national team someday?
I just say have fun, ride with your friends and see where it takes. I work at the High Cascades Snowboard Camp in the summer, and just seeing all the kids get better and better is a great feeling. I started out having a good time with my friends, and now I’m also having a good time with the team.
Who were your role models growing up, and who do you look up to now?
Devun Walsh and all the guys at Mack Dawg videos really made me want to get out and ride. Now it’s all of my friends that inspire me, I get the best vibe off of them.
What motivates you these days?
The fact that I’m going to the Olympics, and learning new tricks, and I’m still improving. My team motivates me, my family, my friends. I'm having so much fun - if I wasn’t having fun, I wouldn’t be doing this.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I don’t know. I don’t want to think about that yet. I don’t even want to know what I’m doing next week. All I know is I’ll always be a snowboarder, and somehow I’ll always stay involved in the industry. Otherwise I’d die.
How is the training going?
It started out a little rough for me (in Whistler). I came from Mammoth, which has a really good environment, it’s sunny and the pipe is really good, and coming home to all this snow was a little frustrating. (Whistler-Blackcomb has) worked really hard on the pipe, so now it’s prime conditions and I’m getting some good training runs in. I think it will definitely help.