A ‘what if’ that came through: Steamboat Olympic snowboarder Mick Dierdorff announces retirement
Following a decorated career including two Winter Olympic appearances and a World Championship title, snowboard cross legend and Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club alumnus Mick Dierdorff announced his retirement from professional competition on Saturday, March 18.
“I know I’m going to miss being in the gate and all that but I’ll really miss traveling around the world with all of the same group of teammates that I have been with for so long,” Dierdorff said. “We became one big family and created so many amazing memories traveling the world together.”
Dierdorff moved to Steamboat with his parents from Bellevue, Washington when he was just one year old. He was on skis by 18 months and quickly became obsessed with winter sports.
Dierdorff started as a ski racer but quickly learned it was not his passion. At 10 he decided to try snowboarding and began competing in snowboard cross events by age 12.
Dierdorff said he grew so quickly in the sport that he was fortunate enough to race in International Ski Federation events by 15. The same year, he competed at the Junior World Championships for boardercross in Austria.
Despite the early success, it took Dierdorff six more years to join Team U.S.A. There was no development team at the time and the only way to get noticed was by putting up top results in World Cup events by himself.
Dierdorff earned a top-8 finish in a World Cup and the following year, 2013, he was named to the national team.
“It was a crazy grind to have to do that on your own without the national team’s support,” Dierdorff said. “The Winter Sports Club had my back, my coach Jon Casson did anything and everything he could to help me chase my dream of getting to the World Cup and on the U.S. team.”
Dierdorff’s next big challenge was to qualify for the Olympics. He needed to finish in the top-4 of American men in the World Cups leading up to the Games.
He fell short in 2014, but strung together one of the best seasons of his career in 2018 to qualify for the PyeongChang Games. He said it was the most accomplished he felt in his career and not many realize how intense the qualifying process can be.
“You spend your whole life thinking about it and then it just boils down to one half of a season trying to make this dream of yours come true,” Dierdorff said. “When it does, it’s the greatest feeling in the world and when it doesn’t it’s the most devastating feeling in the world.”
Dierdorff reached the Big Final in the 2018 Games, on what he claims to be the biggest and most advanced course he had ever competed on, coming home with an incredible fifth-place finish.
The following year, he became the snowboard cross world champion which he refers to as the “pinnacle” of his career.
Dierdorff said it became apparent after winning the World Championship in 2019 that he had accomplished all he had set out to do. He wanted one more shot in the Olympics and knew it would be time to hang up the snowboard not long after.
He was able to qualify and compete in the 2022 Beijing Games where he took 15th overall.
Following his retirement announcement on social media, Dierdorff’s father Skip saw the amazing comments posted from Mick’s competitors, coaches, teammates and sponsors.
“A lot of those comments were about the success in his career but also that he was a good teammate and a good competitor,” Skip said. “He had a lot of respect from the people in that community. That made me particularly proud.”
Now back in Steamboat, Mick has a lot to look forward to. He values being outside and enjoying life with his friends and family in town. He will soon be married to his fiance, Katie, and is ready to enjoy his retirement from athletics.
Dierdorff got his contracting license last year and plans to spend time growing his business, MD Construction. He also has taken on a partial role as a coach for the SSWSC where he said sharing his love for snowboarding with youth athletes has been such a joy.
“When athletes at his elite level choose to come back and invest their experience back into the next generation of athletes, especially at their home club, it makes a huge difference that they recognize what got them where they are,” SSWSC athletic director Dave Stewart said.
Dierdorff always felt a responsibility to make his hometown of Steamboat proud. He will always be part of the town’s rich Olympic history and one of the greatest snowboarders to come out of the SSWSC.
“I’m sure there are many parents that have walked through Olympian Hall and saw those flags and thought, ‘What if?,’ Skip said. “We just feel very grateful that the ‘What if?’ came through for Mick.”
To reach Tom Skulski, call 970-871-4240, email tskulski@SteamboatPilot.com.
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