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  • Writer's pictureGaz Vogan

I got selected for the Winter Olympics

Updated: Nov 16, 2021

As a snowboard judge - I spend forever trying to explain to people what it is that I do. And when I’ve spent 15 minutes explaining it to them - some are impressed by the life of travel, others are baffled that it’s even a job

”It’s like a football referee, but for snowboarding”

But when you mention the Winter Olympics - suddenly it makes sense to people, because even if they’ve never even seen a snowboard in their life, that magical ‘O’ word brings some recognition.

I got a call this week, to say I’d been selected to judge at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. I was buzzing and a little nervous. The weird thing was - all my friends seemed way more excited about it than I did. If I cast my mind back 5 years to the email asking me to judge a World Cup - I was physically shaking with excitement, to the point of almost being in tears. Because in that moment, I felt like I had made it. I'd become someone on the World Cup Tour.

The reason I wasn’t as excited as I should have been, isn’t necessarily because I’m arrogant and believe I should have been selected - I think I’ve just gotten used to it. I’ve spent the past 2 years doing full seasons of back-to-back-to-back competitions, that it just seemed one more competition to add to the calendar. Honestly, I’m annoyed at myself for not running around like a headless chicken - because it IS a big deal. But it doesn’t seem as big a deal as it did when I went from doing small British contests to suddenly being asked to travel internationally for contests.

Once the excitement I did feel subsided, the nerves kicked in a little bit. At the Olympics, everyone’s watching - and more importantly, everyone’s got a f*cking opinion on social media nowadays. In Sochi in 2014, I remember reading the comments - and speaking to the Head Judge a few years later, he told me he’d told all the judges not to check social media. If you fuck up at the Olympics - every man and his dog is gonna message you.

I got my first instance of online-abuse this season, when an athlete DM’d me on Instagram and called me a disgrace to snowboarding. I would have taken it personally, had the other 5 judges I was with not got the same copy and paste message. It sucks, but unfortunately, snowboard judging is such a subjective concept, that the only 2 people you’re ever going to please with a result is the winner, and their mum.

So understandably, the nerves kicked in - but Matty Jennings, Head Judge from the last Olympics dropped me a message saying “Congrats - remember, it’s just another contest. You’re ready.” Which hit home for me. He‘s spot on - it’s the same riders, coaches and tricks that we see for 13 weeks of the year and I get to hang with 9 friends who I normally hang with during the season.

The only difference is there’s more people watching on the TV.

Don't get me wrong - I am HYPED about it, and incredibly grateful to do it as part of my career, because it feels incredibly cool to be part of the small percentage of the world that gets to experience the big O's.

That’s been my big success this week. I haven’t brought in any new business, I haven’t found that 5-figure a month client that all the guru’s promise is just around the corner. But come February - I will get to see my name pop-up on the TV in front of thousands when they flash up the graphic displaying the judges. Maybe I’ll screenshot it and frame it for my mum and dad - seeing as my cute 1-year old nephew has the monopoly on photo's that are displayed around their house.

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