He's Scotland's Snowboard Cross champion, has made the GB Snowboard Cross team - and he's now a member of #TeamBearStrength, too. We quizzed our newest ambassador, Rory Ewart, to find out what makes a champion…
You’ve been riding snowboards since you were 14. What made you pick up your first board?
I started skiing at the age of three at the local dry ski slope. My mum, one September, booked me into snowboard lessons out of the blue and I never really looked back after that.
Teenagers frequently dream of turning a hobby into a career – at what point did you realize that you could make it big time?
Growing up, I was often in the local papers and magazines for my freestyle competitions, but never really thought about turning it into a career. After a concession of injuries, I fell back on instructing and the odd local competition. After spending a lot of time in the gym, a friend of mine suggested I try out for the Scottish Snowboard-cross championships (a discipline I’d never done before). I went up to Glenshee and ended up coming home the Scottish SBX Gold medalist. It was at that moment I thought that I could perhaps make something of this.
What is snowboard cross? And what makes it different?
Snowboard-cross is a race between either 4 or 6 competitors down a slope of ice and slush. The slope consists of a variety of terrain such as medium to large jumps, drops, rollers, wutangs, step-downs and more. The course can be wide in some areas and very tight in others. When racing down the course there is something called the ‘race-line’ this is the fastest route down the course, which obviously is the route all racers try to take which can often lead to huge collisions.
Who have been your biggest inspirations?
Since getting into snowboard-cross, Pierre Vaultier has been a huge inspiration. But for snowboarding and action sports in general it would be Terje Haakonson, Danny Kass and Travis Pastrana.
What’s a typical day of training like?
On hill training would consist of being up and out of bed for 6:30am to get the first 250 sit ups out of the way and up on the mountain for 8am. On the mountain we have our warm up, which consists of space-squats, pistol squats, spitfires, and basic stretching. We then do a variety of drills on our snowboards to sharpen our timing, coordination, agility and other snowboard related skills. The afternoon consists of race training and being more competitive with laps on a small course. Following on-hill training we have circuit training off-hill or gym sessions.
How important is training off the slopes, too?
In the off-season and in the on-season I train in the gym doing a variety of both weight and body weight exercises and compound movements. I also do high intensity circuit training, which has a mix of cardio and muscular training. It’s very important to keep your health and fitness in peak form for race day. Your body is under such high levels of strain when racing, and if it’s not strong enough to cope it can (and does) result in injury. The stronger and fitter you are, the bigger advantage you are giving yourself for race day. To the dissatisfaction of me, a good training session is always finished off with an ice bath – something I doubt I will ever get used to.
Tell us more about the circuit training…
The circuit training is an hour-long session. It has 15 stations, which vary every session. These include battle ropes, back ropes, sprints and kettlebell swings. You spend 1 minute on each station followed by a 30 second period of a high intensity exercise. These also vary and can include burpees, press-ups, spitfires and sprints. You follow this pattern of 1min to 30sec through every station. Once completed, a one-minute rest is granted before doing the circuit again.
Sounds intense! What mantras and advice do you use to get you through?
“Trust yourself”, “have fun, otherwise what’s the point” , “just slide and go fast” “the only limitations one has are those they put on themselves” and the whole six rules of success speech by Arnold Schwarzenegger.
What are your biggest achievements to date?
Winning Gold at the Scottish Snowboard-cross Championships, being selected for the GB Snowboard-cross Team, winning the K-jam superstar rider award and becoming an international competitive athlete that represents my country.
That’s pretty impressive! As a competitive athlete, diet must play a crucial part in your regime…
At a competition or race day I eat like I do any other training day. I like to make sure I have my energy levels high so brown rice, assorted veg and chicken or turkey. I make sure I eat what I need. No more and no less. The last thing I would want is to compete feeling either hungry or stuffed as it would most certainly affect my concentration. I do have a few power bars (just incase) and it’s important to stay hydrated too. I tend to just drink good old H2O.
Aside from being a snowboard cross champ, you also find time to run a fitness facility and coach others, too. Tell us a bit about that…
I actually run a Snow-Sports Club, which is great as I’m able to connect with the local kids in the city and pass on my experiences to them! It’s the same club I learnt how to snowboard at and I run an advance session where I try to find talented youngsters who I put forward into competitions. One has recently been selected for the GB home nation pathway program, which is a huge leap forward for him.
The fitness club I run (Key Fitness) alongside my brother is a high intensity circuit-based club. It’s a mix between old school training and new school and consists of battle ropes, Keg press, farmers walks, pull ups, chin ups, dips, sprints, squats – the lot! I incorporate a lot of the GB Team exercises that I have been taught since becoming a team member into the circuits.
You’re a busy bee, how do you relax and unwind?
I have a pet dog called Hamish. He’s a Newfoundland and I love taking him for a walk down to the river. I also love a good book. Cinema is one thing I have always loved – you cannot beat sitting and watching a great film for the first time.
What are you hoping to accomplish next? Are there any Snowboard Cross accolades you’ve got your eye on?
I’m currently in the running for the ‘Carlisle Sportsman of the Year Award’, which is something I would love to achieve! This season, I want to get some podiums on the international circuit, too. We have one project on the go currently with our eyes set on breaking a world record, so it would be great if I manage to pull it off.
That’s no mean feat! What advice would you give to anybody who wants to get involved in the sport – or who has an ambition to make it a lifestyle?
Just go for it and try it! There are more snow-sports centres around the UK then there has ever been – it’s so easy to get on a snowboard and try it. You have to put everything in to it and make it become part of who you are – but only if you enjoy it! Trust yourself and make milestones to achieve bit by bit and you will get there.
Okay and last but not least, here’s some quickies…
How many boards do you own?
If you’re talking about the ones I use, it would be 5. If you’re talking about ALL my boards, some would say too many, but I say that they make great decoration and good benches!
What’s your favourite breakfast?
I love pancakes with bacon and maple syrup or a fry up with French toast!
Mumford and Sons
I love the island of Jersey! Amazing little place!
What can’t you live without?
My girlfriend, friends and family, my Snowboard, my dog, and my Bear Strength gear!
You’re throwing a party – who are the ultimate guests?
Mumford and Sons – they could play a few tunes and get the party going! Tom Cruise – he could make the cocktails, and Peter Kay – to give us a good laugh!
Who would play you in a movie about your life?
When I was young everyone said I had an uncanny resemblance to Home Alone actor Macaulay Culkin! Now, however, I’d like to think I look very different to the ex -child star, so perhaps Alex Pettyfer? I’d like to say Tom Hardy, but I imagine there would be many disputes about that!
Any fun facts that people may not know about you?
I have metal in my left wrist, my party trick is the worm and I can wiggle my ears!
Favourite Bear Strength items?
Has to be the Purveyor of Strength and Go Team t-shirts. I also love my snapback!