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Canada's Spencer O'Brien poses with her gold medal after the women's Snowboard Slopestyle Finals at the FIS Snowboard World Championships in Stoneham, Quebec, January 18, 2013. O'Brien won the competition.

MATHIEU BELANGER/REUTERS

Spencer O'Brien is one of the world's top female snowboarders, a gold-medal favourite a year from now in Sochi, Russia, when slopestyle makes its Olympic debut.

The immediate priority, however, is delivering on her potential at X Games, where she has struggled. She did score a bronze medal in 2008 and a silver in 2009, but as she climbed in her sport, she hasn't delivered at X Games, finishing fifth last year and 10th in 2011. Elsewhere, O'Brien's been great, last season crowned the Dew Cup slopestyle champion and winning at the TTR World Snowboarding Championships. Last week in Quebec she was first in slopestyle at world championships organized by the International Ski Federation.

One advantage for the soon to be 25-year-old, who grew up on Vancouver Island and lives in North Vancouver, is B2ten, the boutique athlete-funding agency underwritten by private money. Signed on last spring, it has been especially good for time with a sports psychologist.

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"It's such an amazing advantage," O'Brien said. "Our sport is so mental." At X Games, she said, "It's been a mental block more than a physical one." This year, she goes with "no expectations – do what I know how to do."

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About the Author
National correspondent, Vancouver bureau

David Ebner is a national correspondent based in Vancouver. He joined The Globe and Mail in 2000 and worked in Toronto and Calgary before moving to Vancouver in 2008. He has reported on a wide range of stories – business, politics, arts, crime – and has covered sports since 2012. More

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