By Debra Downey, Senior Editor
Snowboarder Brad Martin has had a very different summer, indeed.
Martin usually heads to New Zealand during July and August to get back on some snow as quickly as possible. However, this year the three-time Olympian broke from tradition, sticking around in the warmer Canadian climes to wed his grade school sweetheart Natasha Newell-Vieira. The pair exchanged wedding vows in Ancaster, then continued their fun in the sun with a three-week honeymoon that included stops in Hawaii, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
“We met in Grade 7 and kept in touch,” said Martin of his new bride. “We got married on July 4 at the Ancaster Mill.”
Martin, whose affinity with snow started shortly after his first birthday, was named by Canada Snowboard last week to the halfpipe national team. It’s the 10th time he has earned the nod for the high performance program.
“It’s still exciting,” said Martin. “It’s great to be on the national team and it means a lot to me. I strive every year to make the team.”
After a quiet, relaxing summer with Natasha, the four-time Canadian champion will head to Colorado in November to meet up with his coaches and other members of the halfpipe national team. The first major event on the international ski federation calendar is the Copper Mountain World Cup in Colorado on Dec. 6-7.
Martin’s goal for the season is to make it to the world championships. Last fall he landed his first double flip in halfpipe competition, and he’d also like to once again complete the difficult jump.
“I’d like to perfect that (double flip) this year, and I’d like to land it a couple of times in contests,” he said. “It’s one of the hardest tricks to do, but it looks really cool.”
Martin’s halfpipe team — which includes Mercedes Nicoll from British Columbia, Alexandra Duckworth from Nova Scotia, Derek Livingston from Aurora and Toronto natives Calynn Iriwn and Katie Tsuyuki — is being backstopped by 17-year veteran coach Ben Boyd and Elijah Teter, a former professional halfpipe athlete quite familiar to Martin.
“He (Elijah) is a great guy to work with and does really well in developing new riders and pushing you to do different kinds of tricks,” he said.
With Toronto now serving as his home base, Martin will be on the road pretty much the entire winter. Wife Natasha will likely join him for the Quebec World Cup and in Whistler, British Columbia.
“It’s always great to have friends and family around when you’re competing,” said Martin. “It gives you a bit more drive, and it’s always nice to go out for dinner to take my mind off the competition and the stress.”
Martin, at the age of 28, has already had a long, illustrious career in the relatively young sport of snowboarding. He has had experience at three Olympic Games — Turin in 2006, Vancouver in 2010 and Sochi earlier this year. As he enters his 20th season of competition, Martin said he is pleased with the direction his snowboarding career has taken him.
“I’m extremely happy with all the achievements I’ve already reached and all the goals I’ve set out. I didn’t expect to go to three Olympics, but I have ... and to do that, I’m extremely proud.”
Martin said he’s not considering retirement quite yet. And no, it’s not time to take a break, perhaps teach his own little offspring to snowboard.
“It’s a little early to be talking about that (a baby),” the newlywed said with a laugh. “Every year it (retirement) crosses my mind, but I take it year by year. Who knows what’s going to happen?”
Residents will be able to catch up with Martin during the opening night of the Ancaster Fair, Sept. 18, as he cuts the ceremonial ribbon to mark its opening.