Granada 2015 Winter Universiade silver medallist reminisces about her experience as she soars towards a fifth Olympics in China
Queralt Castellet is Spain’s undisputed “Queen of Snowboarding”
A veteran of four Olympic Winter Games, the fun-loving, colorful and highly motivated 32-year-old Spanish snowboard halfpipe star is on course to compete at her fifth Olympic Games in Beijing.
Castellet’s first World Cup halfpipe competition was all the way back in September 2005, as she burst onto the scene as a 16-year-old at an event in Valle Nevado, Chile. Since then, Queralt has seen it all, albeit occasionally from upside-down, as she has flipped and twisted through the air.
“I have seen many riders that have been dominating this discipline and I kind of have been included in this pack from the beginning – I’ve seen a lot of them arrive and go and I’ve always been there,” Castellet tells FISU’s Brian Pinelli in the latest edition of the FISU Legends Interview Series.
“What keeps me motivated is the fact that I keep pushing it, I keep pushing everyone that comes, I’m a part of it and I’m enjoying it.
“To me, it’s not a job, it’s not an obligation, it’s an opportunity that I get to enjoy everyday that I’m on my snowboard,” said the Spanish snowboarder.
While Castellet is now entirely focused on competing at a fifth Winter Games in China, she reminisced about her Granada 2015 Winter Universiade experience, recalling her silver medal performance in the Andalucian ski resort of Sierra Nevada. She says that she felt immense pride and joy as her native Spain hosted the FISU showcase event.
“It was so amazing to be in Spain riding with so many international riders,” Castellet said. “To have a halfpipe in Spain is amazing – it’s not a very common thing, but in Spain we have a lot of snow and mountains.
“There is a lot of skiing and snowboarding culture, even if Spain is more known of the beaches, parties, holidays and summers.”
Castellet entered the competition fresh off a world championship silver medal in Kreischberg, Austria, just a few weeks earlier. But like in Austria, Castellet finished runner-up to her Chinese rival Cai Xuetong, who remains among the top riders in the world headed to the Beijing Olympics.
“I crashed on the first run, but to land everything in the second run, it was such a relief,” Castellet recalled. “I was stoked and second place was such a relief.
“It was a lot of emotions and I felt this proud feeling there like I hope you guys like it, this is my home.
“One cool thing about the FISU World University Games is the vibe – its different than all the others – it’s a bit more friendly, a bit more laid back and way more fun orientated.”
Having competed at every Olympic Winter Games since Torino 2006, Castellet’s cherished moments and international experiences are vast. She served as the flag bearer for Spain at the Vancouver 2010 opening ceremony, an indelible moment she will forever be proud of.
Her Olympic performances have subsequently improved at each and every Games that she has participated, her best result a seventh at PyeongChang 2018. The Spanish snowboard star has cherished the varied opportunities that each and every of her Olympic experiences has provided.
“For me, to represent Spain in the Olympics, I always approach it as an opportunity to showcase my sport – it’s not a pressure, it’s an honor to be able to show what snowboarding is to the entire world,” Castellet said.
“It’s also true that every time I enter a competition, it’s with the goal is to medal – the Olympics is no different and I’m always there to rocket and give it my best.”
When Castellet drops into the Olympic halfpipe in Zhangjiakou, China, as a five-time Olympian, she will be among esteemed company. The legendary U.S. snowboarder Shaun White will also be competing at his fifth Winter Olympics. The 35-year-old White – who has recently battled through a case of COVID-19 – is in pursuit of an unprecedented fourth Olympic snowboard halfpipe gold medal. The American snowboard icon will also become the oldest halfpipe rider in Olympic history.
“He’s amazing and we’re good friends – we kind of have this friendly relationship that we’ve both been here for such a long time and we’re still kickin’ it and rippin’ it,” Castellet said.