Irish snowboarder to compete at the Winter Olympics

Amongst all the Team GB hoopla (need we remind you that we’re sending no fewer than SIX riders to the freestyle events?!), we missed the fact that another rider had quietly qualified for the games, and made history in the process.

Seamus O'Connor Team Ireland snowboarder Olympics
Seamus O’Connor, American-born snowboarder for Team Ireland

With that name, it’s probably not surprising that Seamus O’Connor hails from Ireland – or rather he doesn’t, but his dad does and so did his grandparents. His ancestry means that, despite being a born-and-bred San Diego-ite… San Diego-in… San Dei-gon… San Diegan, he can don the green and orange for competing in both slopestlye and halfpipe.

He’s a regular on the FIS circuit, and competed in both disciplines at the 2012 World Snowboard Championships. He also won the groms category in the 2011 World Rookie Fest – although he’ll be the first to admit that he’s not a medal contender. 

Winning 'Best Grom' at the 2011 World Rookie Fest
Winning ‘Best Grom’ at the 2011 World Rookie Fest

Team USA’s half pipe and slopestyle teams are both stacked so deeply that even highly decorated veterans like Louie Vito and Scotty Lago couldn’t bag a place at Sochi, so if Seamus was going to make it he’d have to forget about representing the land of his birth. 

He’s made no secret of his desire to one day meet the criteria for Team USA and represent them. After all, that’s the land he calls home. By trotting out for the Emerald Isle he’s managed to get to the games, but that could be seen as taking a spot away from a more worthy challenger. That’s certainly Terje Haakonsen’s take on things. For him, no international snowboard competition worth its salt should deny some of the world’s best riders a place at the table – and that’s technically what’s happening when an unknown 16-year-old can go in the place of X Games medallists.

Or is it just great to see a proud sporting nation like Ireland get representation at the games, however tenuous, as it might lead to an increased appreciation for snowboarding down the line? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.

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