MANCHESTER -- There are probably several Americans throughout the country who can recall being told at an early age that through hard work and perseverance they could achieve whatever they dreamed.
In a previous interview, Alex Deibold, 27, of Manchester recalled watching the Olympic games and telling his parents that one day he was going to make it there as a competitor.
Late last month that dream became a reality when Deibold was named to the U.S. Snowboardcross B-Team that will compete in the Olympics.
"At first it didn’t really seem real. It hadn’t really sunk in," said Deibold in an interview on Monday. "But now that I’m leaving tomorrow, I’ve been home for the past couple days and I’ve actually had to start packing and what do you pack to bring to the Olympics you know? It’s kind of a funny realization. It just feels incredible. It’s so rewarding that all my hard work over the past couple of years has paid off."
Deibold met Olympic criteria when he finished third in a World Cup event at Lake Louise in Alberta, Canada. Deibold said finishing in the top four in a World Cup event was part of the criteria required to make the Olympic team.
Although he had satisfied Olympic criteria, it was still unclear at the time whether or not he would make the Olympic team as there were three more World Cup events remaining.
After one of the events was cancelled, the team flew to Andorra shortly after New Year’s to compete on Saturday and Sunday in two World Cup events. By Sunday, Deibold said he knew that had made the team.
"It was a bit of relief that I had made it and I was almost reluctant to believe it," he said. "But when the race finished and I knew that I was going I just took a minute to myself and walked off in the finish corral and I just tried to embrace it. Š I’ve been working for that moment for so long and it’s pretty hard to put into words, but it was good to know that my hard work was worth it."
When the Olympics begin this Friday, Deibold said the thing that he will be looking forward to the most is the opening ceremonies.
"When I went in 2010 to help the team I wasn’t allowed to go. I was working while my teammates got to go into opening ceremonies and I watched," Deibold said. "[The] smiles that you see on people’s faces and the stories that you hear from people about what it’s like to walk in are pretty incredible and I feel like for me when we walk into opening ceremonies that’s when everything will sink in and it will finally hit me."
When the games begin, Deibold said he believes the biggest challenge for the snowboard team will be living up to expectations. For years the team has been medal contenders in almost every discipline, but things are changing, he said.
"The rest of the world has definitely caught up in the past couple of years and I think that it’s going to be tough for the U.S. to live up to the expectations that [the] media and everyone puts on us," he said.
Personally, Deibold said he believed his biggest challenge would be trying to strike a balance between "embracing the scale of the event" while at the same time not becoming overwhelmed by it.
"On the one hand it’s great. It can definitely elevate you and help you ride beyond your limits and at the same time the pressure can also distract you and [affect] your performance," Deibold said. "So, I think for me the biggest challenge is going to be finding the balance between those two."
Before he left for Sochi, Deibold said he asked teammate Scott Wescott for some advice about competing in the games.
"He had nothing but great things to say to me and he was encouraging," said Deibold. "He said to enjoy it; embrace the experience. Š He [said] go over there and enjoy yourself and have a great time and embrace being part of something that’s bigger than yourself."