Alex Duckworth hails from a small fishing village in Nova Scotia, but she has spent years travelling the world hitting massive half pipes. The Vancouver-based snowboarder broke her ankle in qualifying rounds for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, but was able to be a forerunner on the course. After a lot of hard work, Alex made it to the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi as a member of the Olympic team and landed a 17th place in halfpipe.
Showing her versatility, Alex decided earlier this year to resign from the National Team and is in an exciting transitional period that is seeing her decide what to pursue next. About to begin a different kind of summer now that she is not training for the Olympics, Alex is setting her sights on video projects and other creative endeavours.
What do your summers usually look like?
Usually they look a little something like… snowboarding, all summer long. We’re on the glaciers in BC until mid-July. We go to New Zealand in August, September, and then we’re back here waiting for snow October, November. It’s a pretty full-time thing, especially leading up to the Olympics. I’m kind of just enjoying this summer. It’s a bit more tropical than I’m used to –Vancouver has been so hot – so I’m enjoying spending time in the warm weather. I haven’t had a summer like this in quite a while.
So you are no longer competing with the National Team?
I might do some low-key events, but I’m not doing the big international tour that I’ve been on. I just got to a point where I wasn’t feeling extra inspired, it was kind of feeling a bit repetitive, and I was just checking in a bit more with the risk and the fear element. Every run we are generally trying things that could severely injure us, so I think with age you sort of start to register that a little bit more. I didn’t want to be snowboarding under those terms. So I took a bit of leave from competing towards the end of the season to sort of work through that. I still want to snowboard and work with my sponsors and do some video projects, but I think that for now competing could be a thing of the past.
How did it feel to make it to the Sochi Olympics after injuring yourself during qualifying for the 2010 Olympics?
It came up pretty fast, and I just decided to snowboard as much as I could. I took time off school in the fall and basically put everything I had into it. There was a bit of regret around the 2010 games. Even though I did get injured, I don’t think I really sought out all the resources that were available to me. We have all these resources in place as National Team athletes, and I made sure that I was going to take advantage of all of them. I’m not going to say it wasn’t stressful – but it helped to know that I was as prepared as I could have been.
The actual moment qualifying for the games, that’s when I really started to enjoy the process. I wasn’t a medal favourite; my whole objective was to just really enjoy it and take in everything and make as many memories as I could and watch as many other sports as I could and meet as many other athletes as I could. That experience was super positive for me.
What kind of writing are you doing for snowboard magazines?
The big story I’m doing is about a trip we did back east. We had record snowfall back there this winter, it was the craziest snowfall I’ve ever seen in my hometown. Normally we can’t do any urban snowboarding or anything, but we did a week-long trip in February so I got to write that story. I also do an opinion piece and some stuff for the resort guide as well.
What kinds of projects and goals would you like to tackle over the next year?
This year I’m producing a mini-TV series for East Link which is a Canadian television network. I’ve enjoyed that. It’s kind of like snowboard, travel, adventure, lifestyle themed. It’s a two-part thing and I’m about halfway done so we’ll shoot the other one in Oregon and Mount Hood.
There are a lot of forks in the road, but in terms of my own kinds of passion projects I would like to continue down this travel/documentary production path and see where it might take me. Whether it’s something that I can continue with snowboarding, or even without snowboarding.