Tyler Jewell talks about financing an Olympic career

The following is an excerpt from an article posted at TeamUSA.org:

Tyler Jewell has competed in two Olympic Winter Games. He has notched 14 top-10 World Cup finishes. He has been feted at the White House. And now the snowboarder is ramping up his training again in hopes of competing again for the United States at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games.

Yet there are times when he doesn’t feel like such a superstar athlete.

Once, during a trip to New York City to try to secure sponsorship, his sister-in-law asked him to do a favor and have lunch with a young kid and talk about the Olympic experience.

“In the end,’’ Jewell said with a laugh, “he wanted to give me his allowance.’’

Jewell turned down the kid’s offer, but hasn’t turned his back on his Olympic dream — even though it has meant living on the cheap. Currently, he is in Chula Vista, Calif., where he is living at the U.S. Olympic Training Center. There, courtesy of the USOC, he lives rent free, eats for free and trains among other Olympians. He will have this opportunity for nine weeks. In addition, he receives a stipend from the United States Ski and Snowboard Association.

At the U.S. Olympic Training Center, Jewell said everyone has been encouraging. From the people who work in the gym, to the cooks, to the staff members who shuttle athletes to and from the airport and clean the athletes’ rooms, Jewell said he feels the support. Even a gesture as simple as a hug has been appreciated by Jewell. It serves as a daily reminder of what his bigger picture is all about.

“I am super grateful to be here,’’ said Jewell, 33. “It really feels like family here.’’

Even over the Fourth of July weekend, Jewell spent time hanging out with other Olympians. He and a group of kayakers went out to watch the fireworks.

It isn’t easy to finance an Olympic career, and being at the U.S. Olympic Training Center, Jewell knows he is not alone. Yet he remains an optimist.

“Somehow,’’ he said, “I’ve learned how not to panic.’’

A graduate of Boston College and the son of a vascular surgeon, one might assume that he wouldn’t have many financial woes. But while his family has been a source of emotional support — Jewell’s parents, three brothers, uncles and aunts all were cheering him on during the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games — his parents made it clear from the get-go that he would be responsible for funding his snowboarding career.

“It’s not like I was ever going to living in a cardboard box on the street,’’ said Jewell, a Boston native. “I could work a normal job, but then I wouldn’t be pursuing my dream to be the best in the world. This is what I want to do.’’

No one ever said it would be easy. Jewell laughs when he recants stories of living in a tent, sleeping on couches, working on a ranch in Nevada and discovering how he could eat cheap meals at hospitals near the slopes.

“You’d be surprised at how much food you could get for $2.50,’’ he said.

He’s even found a gig with a friend who works at a marketing firm for the summer. He travels to New Mexico for the state fair, where he sells juice and sausages.

“It’s probably not healthy for me to be doing that 15 hours a day,’’ he said. “Really, I need to be in the gym and I need to be rested.’’

But it’s the price he pays so he can continue doing what he loves.

Click here to read the entire article.


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