There’s a fervour brewing inside professional snowboarder Michael Lambert.
It may be summer and the snowy slopes have traded in their packed powder for fescues, but the 24 year old is oblivious to the change in seasons.
He’s hard at work, rehabilitating after a tough 2010-11 season at the University of Toronto. It’s not merely to qualify for the Sochi Olympics in 2014, but to claim the golden prize.
In the surroundings of his new downtown Toronto condo, Lambert sounds candid, focused and ambitious.
“One of the things I’ve been thinking about lately is, after doing well (in 2009-10), I struggled a bunch of years trying to get to that place where I thought I could win a World Cup and be the best in the world,” he said. “I really had a breakthrough year in the year of the Olympics.
“I think, for me now, I’m wondering what it is I need to do, what I need to focus on to be that guy that people are betting on to win that race.”
Much like the seasonal change and new digs, the catalyst for Lambert’s new drive is an injury that sidelined him for two months in the 2010-11 International Ski Federation season.
During training in Colorado, the Casa Loma native fell, dislocating his shoulder.
Two options were presented to the former fifth overall snowboarder: get surgery immediately or rehabilitate.
He opted for the second choice, feeling he had some time to get back into competing.
“Part of me kind of wishes that I had got the surgery in November or December,” he said, adding that, after returning to the slopes in January, frustration ensued.
“I just found I was really struggling,” he said. “I guess I wasn’t trusting my arm because it needed surgery.”
Still, the surgery, done in April, went well, and in the five weeks thereafter Lambert has had plenty of time to reflect on a season that saw the departure of veteran snowboarders and the intensity of Vancouver 2010 ebb.
Vancouver 2010 gold medalist Jasey-Jay Anderson left FIS competitions after 2009-10 and Matthew Morrison spent most of the 2010-11 season getting his helicopter pilot’s license.
“You’ve got all these teammates that are retiring, so coming into this year there definitely was a different vibe,” Lambert said. “You usually come into the season swinging.
“You’ve been training all summer, you’re ready and you’re there because you’re pushing for the Olympics. A lot of the veterans, they’ve been through this post-Olympic year before, but for me this was my first one and there were so many things that were weird about it.”
Lambert’s passion, formed from a yen to take his slope carving to the next level, is what stays his momentum.
“I’m definitely not worried about just making the criteria, because that doesn’t interest me anymore,” he said. “I don’t want to be the runner up; I don’t want to walk away from this career with just World Cup victories.
“I’ve put almost seven years of my life into this and if I’m going to put in another four. I want it all.”