U.S. Olympic Snowboarding hopeful lives out of his truck
“In the back is the bedroom and lounge, all inclusive,” he told KSL-5TV in Salt Lake City as he gave a tour of his truck. “A lot of people would probably go nuts over this, but I think the longer that you live with less you realize the less that you actually need.
“For the first two weeks, I stayed in the Walmart parking lot, but it was not quiet.”
Reiter, 32, has been the best U.S. Alpine snowboarder the last two World Cup seasons after being the top-ranked man not to make the 2010 U.S. Olympic team. He said reconstructive surgery for a degenerative patella ended his 2010 Olympic hopes.
He competes in a snowboard discipline that’s not as well known as halfpipe, but it’s been a part of the Olympic program just as long (since 1998).
The only American man to win an Olympic medal in Alpine snowboarding was Chris Klug, who took bronze in 2002 after receiving a liver transplant two years earlier.
Alpine snowboarding is probably best remembered for what happened at the 1998 Olympics, where Ross Rebagliati of Canada won gold, tested positive for marijuana, briefly lost his gold then got it back on appeal.
If Reiter makes the Olympics, he’ll have a chance at multiple medals. A second Alpine snowboarding discipline has been added for the Sochi Olympics — parallel slalom to join parallel giant slalom.
“Is it a big deal? Hell yeah,” he said of making it to Sochi. “Yeah, it is a very big deal. Any Olympics is a big deal.”
Justin Reiter discovered Tuesday morning at 10:30 that living out of his Toyota Tundra for the summer had been worth it.
He sat in his favorite coffee shop in Steamboat, Colo., working on thank-you notes and eating a breakfast burrito.
Still not certain of his athletic future, he was struggling to thank his supporters. So Reiter decided to put his fate in his own hands. He emailed the Olympics US Snowboarding Team editor, begging to at least know when a decision would be made. Within minutes, he received a call.
"She told me they wanted to construct the best team they possibly could for the Olympics—then she paused for a long time. I was sure I didn't make it. But she finished with ‘you're a part of that team'," Reiter said.
This is Reiter's third attempt at making the Olympic Team. At 32, the Parallel Slalom snowboarder says he is about to live his 20-year-old dream.
After missing the mark by one spot in the 2006 Olympics, injuring his knee cap before the 2010 Olympics and retiring from the sport for two years, Reiter came back in 2013 because of "unfinished business with snowboarding."
"It was the perfect catalyst for me to return," Reiter said. "I took a different approach. Said [I was] not doing this for results—I'm doing this because I love to do it. That's what it's about. And since that time, that's been my main focus."
And he sure has taken a different approach. He did not miss a day of training, even in the 5-month off-season. In order to save money, he opted to live out of his truck this summer in Park City, Utah.
As he continues to pursue the Olympics, Reiter says he has a whole new mindset.
"There's so much pressure about going to the Olympics," Reiter said. He attributed his competition losses to that pressure.
"Now I'm really excited to have the opportunity just to enjoy the ride," Reiter said. "It's been a long time coming. But that's kind of how everything in my life has been. It's always been kind of a drive. It's never been easy."
Reiter will be the only American competing in the Alpine Snowboarding event, airing Feb. 23, on NBC at the 2014 Winter Olympics.
BSU at the Games is a freelance Olympic news agency operated by 22 student journalists reporting from the Sochi 2014 Winter Games through an immersive learning program at Ball State University.