Snowboarder Alex Deibold 'still fighting' after 'heartbreaking' Olympic experience

Alex Deibold's snowboarding career has been quite the ride. 

The New England native says he was on skis by age two, snowboarding by age 4 and in competitions by age 8, all without much prodding from his parents. After seeing success early on in his athletic career, Deibold was recruited to attend the storied Stratton Mountain School in Vermont, which he graduated from in 2004. 

"I'm still here, fighting, 14 years later," he says of the longevity of his career. 

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Upon his graduation, Deibold was named to the inaugural United States snowboard team for boardcross. It was an impressive feat, but his sights were set much higher. 

When the time came for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Deibold attempted to qualify for Team USA -- and that's when his career really took a turn. 

"I came up short," Diebold told AOL.com of his attempt to qualify for the 2010 Games, "but my coach gave me the opportunity to come up and be a technician."

The snowboarder compares the job he had as a wax technician to that of a batboy in baseball.

"It was really, in hindsight, a life-changing experience for me," he said. "It gave me the opportunity to go to the Games and experience it without having the pressure of having to compete, but at the same time, it also lit the fire."

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Olympic snowboarder Alex Deibold through the years
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Olympic snowboarder Alex Deibold through the years
Snowboarder Alex Deibold poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 27, 2017. He listens to Motley Crew songs while training. REUTERS/Mike Blake
TELLURIDE, CO - DECEMBER 17: (L-R) Nick Baumgartner, Peter Foley, US Snowboarding Head Coach, Alex Deibold, Nate Holland and Ros Powers talk during inspection prior to the Snowboard Cross at the LG Snowboard FIS World Cup on December 17, 2010 in Telluride, Colorado. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
TELLURIDE, CO - DECEMBER 18: Alex Deibold of the USA takes a run during FIS Snowbaordcross World Cup Qualifications on December 18, 2009 in Telluride, Colorado. Deibold finished 18th to advance to the finals. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
TELLURIDE, CO - DECEMBER 18: Alberto Schiavon (2L) sprays champagne on teammate and Luca Matteotti (2R) of Italy as they celebrate on the podium after winning the Men's Snowboard Cross Team Event at the LG Snowboard FIS World Cup on December 18, 2010 in Telluride, Colorado. Nick Baumgartner (L) of the USA in third place and Alex Deibold (R) of the USA in second place are on the fridge of the action. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
TELLURIDE, CO - DECEMBER 18: (L-R) Alex Deibold of the USA and teammate Jonathan Cheever of the USA take the podium in second place in the Men's Snowboard Cross Team Event at the LG Snowboard FIS World Cup on December 18, 2010 in Telluride, Colorado. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 15: Alex Deibold of the United States trains during practice for the Mens Snowboard Cross competition at the Extreme Park at Rosa Khutor Mountain on February 15, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 18: Bronze medalist Alex Deibold of the United States celebrates on the podium during the flower ceremony for the Men's Snowboard Cross Final on day eleven of the 2014 Winter Olympics at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park on February 18, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 18: ALex Deibold of USA on his way to winning Bronze in the Men's Snowboard Cross Big Final on day eleven of the 2014 Winter Olympics at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park on February 18, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 18: U.S. Olympian Alex Deibold visits the USA House in the Olympic Village on February 18, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images for USOC)
TODAY -- Pictured: Alex Deibold from the 2014 Olympics in Socci -- (Photo by: Joe Scarnici/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - MARCH 4: Local Olympic medalists Alex Deibold, Marissa Castelli, Simon Shnapir, Steve Langton, Meghan Duggan, Kelli Stack, Molly Schaus, Alex Carpenter, Michelle Picard and Kacey Bellamy in the locker room of the Boston Bruins before the game against the Florida Panthers at the TD Garden on March 4, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 02: Alex Deibold walks the red carpet during the U.S. Olympic Committee's Best of U.S. Awards at Warner Theatre on April 2, 2014 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Kris Connor/Getty Images for the USOC)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - APRIL 26: Snowboarder Alex Deibold poses for a portrait during the Team USA PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics portraits on April 26, 2017 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 01: (L-R) Skier Nick Goepper and snowboarder Alex Deibold attend the 100 Days Out 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics Celebration - Team USA in Times Square on November 1, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images for USOC)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 02: 2014 Snowboard Olympic Bronze Medalist Alex Deibold attends 51st New York Gold Medal Gala at The Ziegfeld Ballroom on November 2, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images)
Snowboarder Alex Deibold poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 27, 2017. He listens to Motley Crew songs while training. REUTERS/Mike Blake
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Four years later, Deibold went out for Team USA again ahead of the Sochi Games -- and he made it, largely thanks to his experience in 2010. 

"It was heartbreaking being in Vancouver," he said. "But more than anything, the fact that I got to go and be there was really what kept me motivated."

There was one moment in particular that really inspired Deibold while he was in Vancouver: his longtime friend, Seth Wescott, winning a gold medal. Wescott secured the gold in men's snowboard cross and shared a sweet moment with Deibold later that night as the two were celebrating his victory. 

"I sheepishly went up to him and I said, 'Hey, Seth, can I see your medal?'" Deibold recalled. "He was like, 'Are you kidding me? Get over here!' He literally just took it off his neck, the night he got it, and put it on me." 

It was the first medal Deibold ever saw in person and he was blown away by his friend's generosity. In 2014, Deibold finally won a medal of his own when he placed third in men's snowboard cross. 

"I try to remember that experience from 2010 and whenever anybody asks, I share my medal with as many people as possible," he said. 

The 31-year-old now hopes to qualify for the games in Pyeongchang and add another medal to his list of accolades. 

To learn more, visit teamusa.org. The Winter Olympics will air live starting February 8. 

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