Seth Wescott sees gold.

X Games gold, that is.

A year off his second Olympic gold medal, Maine’s snowboard cross king wants to add an X Games title.

The event runs today to Sunday at Buttermilk in Aspen, Colo. The snowboard cross finals are Saturday.

“I want to break my streak of never winning there,” said Wescott. “I’ve put the most mental energy into thinking about this one than ever. Hopefully I can find that motivation.”

Wescott is coming off a second-place finish at the world championships in La Molina, Spain.

Before that he finished second at Telluride, Colo., in the first World Cup event of the year.

It’s been a very strong post-Olympic year for Wescott.

He plans on one more domestic event before jetting off to Alaska to pursue some heliboarding projects, including one with Warren Miller, the famed maker of ski movies.

But the X Games has gotten his attention this time.

Nate Holland, a longtime American teammate of Wescott’s, has won the X Games for five years straight, six total.

If Wescott is Mr. Olympics, Holland is Mr. X Games.

“The advantage Nate has, straight up, over me is that he weighs a little more,” said Wescott. “It’s a total gliding race where body weight really comes into play. Last year I had the lead twice in the finals but also made mistakes.

“If I make mistakes he has an advantage because he outweighs me. So I need to go, execute well and have a solid game plan.”

Holland said while Wescott has given him some of his best races, he has no plans to let his pal stay in front.

“I know he’s gunning for it,” said Holland. “I know he’s hungry for gold because he doesn’t have one and I think he’s kind of sick of that. But with all due respect, I’ve got to play my own game and I’m confident I can beat him on this course. I have several times.

“We’re both big-game players, and I know he’s going to be bringing it. I can’t really control that. I can only get out there, ride my heart out and wait for the results.”

Should Wescott win: “I’d be stoked,” said Holland.

In a non-Olympic year, Wescott generally focuses more on the world championships and World Cup circuit.

But the X Games, which are aired live over four days on ESPN, get exposure that demands attention.

“In the long term those world championship medals will be more important to me. It’s like the Olympics,” said Wescott. “But clearly the X Games is what everyone sees every year. It’s huge to do well there. And for me, I want to win it.”

Agreed, said Peter Carlisle of Cape Elizabeth, his agent from Octagon.

“It’s definitely an important event for Seth,” said Carlisle. “He’s been competing in the X Games since 1997. Within the sport it has a lot of meaning and outside the Olympics it’s the biggest media platform these guys have in an off-Olympic year.”

His year since striking gold in Vancouver for a second time has been jam-packed.

From trips to Pebble Beach for the U.S. Open to sponsorship engagements in South Africa last summer during the World Cup, Wescott has been constantly on the move.

“It was really the most off-snow work I’ve ever done in a year,” said Wescott. “For me it’s much more fun to be in the winter mode. That feels normal to me.”

Leading up to Telluride he was in Las Vegas speaking at an industry trade show for DeLorme, one of his more regional sponsors, a key to his portfolio, said Carlisle.

“There has been so much growth for him in the local and regional market. And that’s really difficult,” said Carlisle. “It’s a testament to this state. How they view him. I can see that continuing to work.”

Wescott, said Carlisle, will be a featured athlete during the broadcast.

“He’ll be the best-known, best- respected boarder cross athlete there either way, and will be the guy ESPN focuses on from a programming standpoint,” said Carlisle. “It’s a great reminder to the general public who he is. It refreshes everything.”

Then, gold or not, Wescott will jet off to Alaska and Holland will join him, and the pair will tackle the great wild.

“We’re good friends,” said Holland.

“I know I can count on Wescott as a partner in the back country if I get into trouble.” 

Staff Writer Jenn Menendez can be contacted at 791-6426 or at:

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