Based out of the USA at Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, Ben and Sam Carpenter are the latest athletes to join the GB Snowsport British Qualified Programme, adding Alpine Snowboarding to the British discipline cohort. The brothers are currently coached by Olympian Thedo Remmelink, and we caught up with them to find out how they came to the discipline and where they see themselves in five years time.
How long have you been competing in Alpine Snowboarding and what drew you to the sport initially?
Ben: I started skiing when I was 7 years old with my parents in the Austrian and the French Alps. I started snowboarding when I was 10 years old, a year after we moved to Boston in the US. Then I started competing at Slalom and Grand Slalom at the US Nationals when I was 13 years old, and then 3 years ago when I was 15 years old I transitioned to Alpine Snowboarding as soft boots just weren’t competitive enough.
Sam: I’ve been snowboarding for 4 years and this year is my 3rd year of alpine snowboarding. Initially I was an alpine skier but then I tried my brother’s snowboard and really enjoyed it, but I still enjoyed the speed and thrill of alpine skiing, so alpine snowboarding seemed a natural sport for me.
What’s your favourite thing about Alpine Snowboarding?
Ben: I love the feeling of ripping down the course, placing the board on edge and shredding through a perfect turn. You get a huge rush from leaning over hard at speed and carving a great turn, popping up and then laying down another turn on the other side. On a fast course you can be taking gates at 40 mph so it’s really an adrenaline sport.
Sam: The rush of flying by competition gates, holding a strong carve on a fully engaged edge and feeling the full g-force from the turn – it’s a real thrill when you do it at speed down a race course.
Please tell us about how you train for Alpine Snowboarding events.
Ben: I compete at both Alpine Snowboarding and Boardercross, so basically I’m training 6 days a week with the team. Each training session is around 3 hrs long and we spend most of the time training on course hitting gates. We’re down the gym a couple of nights too for strength training as you need a level of strength to fully activate the board. It’s a pretty intense training program but with the great coaches, you can quickly improve your skills.
Sam: On the physical side, we do gym work to strengthen our core and legs. On the snow we train 5 days a week, 3 hours a session, oncourse gate training – each time working to improve our technique and speed down the course. I also find meditation helps to calm my mind, particularly as I sit at the top of the course before a race. We go to a special high school in the mountains in Steamboat, Colorado, so our spring and autumn school terms are very intense to make time for training in the afternoons during the winter term.
Where do you see yourselves in five years time?
Ben: This season I achieved 8th place in the US FIS races, so my goal is to be competing at the World Cup in the next two years, which is already very competitive as the riders are top athletes and extremely fast. Ideally I’d like to qualify for the Olympics but I appreciate I’ve a lot of work to do. The camaraderie is really great between the FIS and World Cup athletes, so we really have fun and enjoy hanging out together.
Sam: Well in 5 year’s time, is the 2026 winter Olympics, so I dream of competing there for Great Britain. Next year I’ll be competing at FIS level races and hope to compete at Junior World Championships. Currently I compete at the US National competitions.
Tell us about your connection to the UK.
Ben: I was born in the UK and moved to the US when I was 9 years old. Next year I plan to attend University here in the US so I can continue to train with the world’s best coaches, but I still think of myself as British and have kept my British accent. We travel back to the UK a couple of times a year to see family and friends.
Sam: I was born in Marlow, England and moved with my family to Boston 9 years ago, so I’ve lived now more in the US than in the UK. I love to travel to the UK and Europe every summer and Christmas to spend time with family and friends. Our family still sends us chocolate from the UK as it’s so much better than US chocolate.
When you’re not snowboarding or training what do you get up to?
Ben: I love to drive, mountain bike, ride dirt bikes, go-karting and spending time with my friends in Boston and Steamboat CO, anything really that’s an adrenaline sport.
Sam: I love mountain biking, dirt biking, rock climbing and electronic projects, such as building racing drones and gaming PCs.