Seth Wescott knows a thing or two about coming back to win Olympic gold.
In 2006, the man from Maine passed Slovakian Radoslav Zidek in the second half of the first Olympic snowboardcross final and edged him out for victory by less than the length of a snowboard.
In 2010, Wescott moved from last place early on to beat Canadian Mike Robertson for gold, also by a matter of inches.
His comeback for the Sochi Olympic snowboardcross is already in motion, two months before the Games.
Wescott, 37, underwent “a complete reconstruction” of his left ACL in April after falling into an Alaska crevasse while shooting part of a film for ski and snowboard director Warren Miller. He tore the ACL and broke his tibia.
“I basically ended up hitting a wall at 40 mph, and when I got to the bottom I knew right away that something was very wrong,” Wescott told TeamUSA.org in August. “The ACL was just gone. Not exactly the way I wanted to start my summer training.”
Wescott, who could become the first American man to win the same Winter Olympic event three straight times, said his knee is “getting close” to competition level on TODAY on Thursday morning.
He’s been testing the knee in Soelden, Austria, earlier this month and, more recently, at home at Sugarloaf Mountain in Carrabassett Valley.
Wescott said he will travel with the U.S. team to Lake Louise, Alberta, for a World Cup stop Dec. 21 but doesn’t think he’ll compete there.
“Buying myself three more weeks through the Christmas holidays and just the amount of training that I’ll be able to get in that time, I’ll have some real progress,” Wescott said on TODAY.
Wescott is one of three Olympians trying to become the first American man to win the same Winter Olympic event three straight times (Bonnie Blair is the only U.S. woman to do it). Fellow snowboarder Shaun White (halfpipe) and speed skater Shani Davis (1000m) also won in 2006 and 2010.
Wescott, if they all make the Olympic team, would be the last of the three to make the attempt. Men’s snowboardcross in Sochi is Feb. 17, five days after Davis’ 1000m and six days after White’s halfpipe.
He might even go after a fourth gold in Pyeongchang, South Korea, in 2018. Wescott’s been inspired by surfing legend Kelly Slater, who at 41 is trying to win his 12th world title this week.
“I never would have thought, even post-Torino, that I’d be going right now,” said Wescott, who will be 41 in 2018. “To be honest, I’m getting better at it every year. … The time point where I decide to walk away will be when I feel that there’s stagnation.”