Scotty Lago is officially in Olympic training mode.
The Seabrook snowboarder who won bronze in the halfpipe at the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver, British Columbia, has made his way out to Copper Mountain in Colo., for the opening of the first Olympic-size halfpipe in North America for the season.
The first of five Olympic qualifiers in the halfpipe will take place next weekend in Breckenridge, Colo., and the second will be the following weekend at Copper Mountain.
Back in 2010, Lago earned one of four spots in the halfpipe on the United States Olympic team by placing second twice and third once in five Olympic qualifiers. He could potentially secure a spot on the 2014 team as early as Christmas with top finishes at the two qualifiers in December.
“In theory, I could get it done before then, but that would be a Christmas miracle,” Lago said.
Lago is still widely recognized as one of the top snowboarders in the world four years after he competed in his first Olympic Games in Vancouver. He is on a short list of favorites to earn a medal in Sochi, Russia, the site of the 2014 Games.
Opening Ceremonies are scheduled for February 7. After spending much of September, October and November at home in Hampton Falls, Lago plans to train and compete right through the Olympics, with the exception of a small window from Dec. 23 to 27 when he plans to come home for Christmas.
“I’m feeling pretty good,” Lago said. “I’m getting my tricks back slowly. I’m staying healthy, and I feel pretty confident.”
At 26, Lago is now an elder statesman in a sport in which he became a professional at the age of 16 in 2004. He was an alternate for the 2006 Olympic team before emerging as the biggest American threat to unseat reigning Olympic gold medalist Shaun White in 2010.