“I think my secret is that I love snowboarding, pretty much”.
Two podium finishes in banked slalom at the opening IPC Snowboard World Cup of the 2015-16 season in Landgraaf, the Netherlands, have given Finnish snowboard-cross world champion Matti Suur-Hamari confidence heading into the next edition in Aspen Snowmass, USA.
Since beginning competitive snowboarding in 2012-13, Suur-Hamari has beaten some of the world’s best snowboarders to make his way to the top of the podium. His success did not come by chance, as the 2014-15 overall men’s SB-LL2 World Cup winner explained.
“I just try to do the right thing in my training and to push up my limits every single day” he said. “I think the biggest thing is that I love what I do. If you don’t have passion for what you’re doing, you can’t push yourself as much as you need to. So I think my secret is that I love snowboarding, pretty much”.
Suur-Hamari lost his left leg after a motorcycle accident in 2009. During three weeks in hospital he found some clips of US Paralympic champion Evan Strong skateboarding. These videos inspired Suur-Hamari who had already snowboarded for ten years.
“I remember that I was thinking if he can do that kind of stuff with one leg, at least I have a chance if I work hard and push up my limits” he said.
Now, not only are Suur-Hamari and Strong good friends but the Finn snowboarder carried out a shock victory over the Paralympic champion to win cross title at the 2015 Worlds in La Molina, Spain, and to finish ahead of him in the overall World Cup rankings last season.
In order to build on that success in the lead-up to PyeongChang 2018 Winter Paralympics, Suur-Hamari is working hard to improve his riding skills day after day.
“I think our sport is growing up really fast so I believe that when we get to South Korea there will be many winning candidates, not just two or three, which is a really good thing,” he said. “I also hope for a little bit of good luck when the gates will open in PyeongChang. However, key to success is to build up my average results making less mistakes and more solid riding.”
To prepare for the new season, Suur-Hamari moved to Ruka Ski Resot in Kuusamo, Finland, where he can snowboard every day.
“We have really good conditions here for training right now. My training is made of many things as I believe that if you want to be a good SBX rider you have to be a good snowboarder all around. That’s why we are doing lots of GS [giant slalom] training, jumps in the park and freeriding on the slopes. And of course there is training out of snowboarding like the gym, Pilates and mountain biking. I’m trying to keep my training as many-sided as possible and I’ll do my best in every race always trying to win” he said.
The next IPC Snowboard World Cup in Aspen Snowmass, Colorado, USA gets underway on 5-6 February with snowboard-cross.