And his passion for the core of the sport remains intact, despite having burned a bunch of his mojo reserves chasing the Olympic dream.
“Training for the Olympics, snowboarding can start to feel like a bit of a job, which is kind of what it is. But I really like just snowboarding for the sake of it. That’s why I love watching Halldor – he is just riding because he loves snowboarding, he’s doing it for himself.”
Also not bad at partying too.
As our interview stepped back from the chronology of his snowboarding journey so far, and got into his motivations and ambitions, Owen’s determination and complete inability to be constrained by his injury really started to shine through.
I could imagine him being a poster child for Nike’s famous “Just Do It” ad campaign. He doesn’t see barriers and complications, only opportunities. His ambition is very much to inspire others, able bodied and adaptive, to go out and reach their potential.
“My dream would be to go out and film the first backcountry part by a guy with one leg. I want to show the world that you can do anything, even if you’ve got an injury like mine. I want to inspire others to do the same, push their boundaries. I want to show people what is possible.”
The “anything is possible” mindset runs through everything Pick does, including the work he does with his sponsors. Rather than making himself a mercenary vehicle for “bumper sticker” logo placements, Pick has instead formed a long term relationship with CMMNTY, a clothing brand that commit a significant portion of their profits towards combatting homelessness.
“I’d love to see more people with injuries like mine get into snowboarding, I’d like to see a British team of 10 adaptive snowboarders going to the Paralympics, with another 20 athletes behind them”
Whilst the issue of homelessness is too complicated and too serious to do justice in the context of a snowboard interview, Pick’s journey from what must have been the valley of despair in Afghanistan to being a flagbearer at the Olympics cannot fail to inspire those who are staring down the barrel of adversity. Pick is carefully using his position as a snowboarder to make a positive impact, to do good.
And whilst it’s maybe too soon to be talking about legacy for someone still in their 20s, Pick is clear on the mark that he wants to leave.
“I’d love to see more people with injuries like mine get into snowboarding, I’d like to see a British team of 10 adaptive snowboarders going to the Paralympics, with another 20 athletes behind them ready to take it forward after that. I want to inspire people to just go and do what they want to do, believe in themselves. If you want to do something enough, you can make it work, no matter what. I managed to find a way to live my dream, I am not saying it was easy at any point, there was no blank cheque, there was lots of work that I had to do, but I found a way to make it happen. Everyone else can too.”
Pick recognizes that not every day is a good one, but found a way through those darker moments by focusing on what he was able to influence.
“Even when you are feeling miserable and not up for things, there’s always someone else having a worse day. When I was sat in my hospital bed, I had lost a leg, but I was looking around and seeing people who had lost both legs and an arm. So I realized that you can get through anything if you just focus on the things under your control, and channel your energy in a positive way.”
So…next time your dog has eaten your homework and your knee is a bit sore and you’ve decided not to hit the medium kicker line because you’re “not feeling it”, just remember how lucky you are. Excuses are inherently lame. As Yoda said, “Do, or do not. There is no try.”
There are always people you meet who you think would have been successful not matter what they did in life, because that drive and commitment is a completely transferrable trait. Owen Pick is one of those guys. He is a great representative of both our sport of snowboarding, and our nation. Whether he ends up filming a part with Terje, getting gold at the next Olympics or just having a blast riding powder with his mates for the rest of his days, there is so much we can all learn from his story.
This interview was made possible thanks to CMMNTY