Marcus Kleveland is quick to mention that he’s not in good shape in the conventional sense. The snowboarder favors freshly groomed snow over a cramped and sweaty gym. He finds coming up with new tricks while playing video games more appealing than the thought of pushing and lifting weights. With all he has achieved at just 24 years old, it’s difficult to dispute his perspective.
Renowned for his inventiveness and flair, Kleveland is expected to be a crowd favorite at the Aspen X Games this weekend, featuring in Big Air, Slopestyle, and Knuckle Huck, airing on ESPN from Jan. 26-28.
Muscle and Fitness caught up with the Norwegian sensation to delve into his current stance on gym workouts, overcoming a potentially career-ending injury, and leveraging his gaming skills to execute tricks.
Transition from The Countryside to the Snow
One of Kleveland’s favored games is I-Illusion’s Shredders. The studio describes the game as their tribute to snowboarding, crafted with a “for riders, by riders” ethos. Given the exhilarating nature of action sports games, Shredders offers realism by centering on executing tricks.
“I recall playing SSX and performing these unbelievable tricks that I thought were unattainable,” Kleveland remarks. “But now we’re essentially pulling off the tricks that we believed were unattainable, which is incredible because video games are usually over the top. It underscores the current insanity of snowboarding.”
Mentally absorbing a mind-bending trick from various angles in the game easily translates for Kleveland when he’s on his snowboard. He also finds pleasure in playing Call of Duty to divert his attention from snowboarding and relishes practicing on a Formula 1 simulation rig. Given his passion for cars, he aspires to compete behind the wheel someday.
No Gym, No Issue
Marcus Kleveland reminisces about 2020, recollecting that it was the last time he regularly frequented the gym. It wasn’t about testing his deadlift or bench press maximum. It was all part of his rehabilitation program to restore strength to his right knee after shattering his kneecap while rehearsing for the 2018 Dew Tour. It’s not that Kleveland shuns the gym; he believes that the only way to enhance his prowess in his beloved sport is to keep doing it and derive maximum enjoyment from it.
“I never really viewed snowboarding as a typical job or something that I have to do,” he explained. “I love the sport. It’s always been incredibly enjoyable whenever I hit the slopes. It’s an activity I can enjoy with friends and family. Once something starts feeling like a job, it becomes easy to lose the joy in it.”
Marcus Kleveland’s Casual Response to His Knee Injury Severity
For any athlete, receiving news from a doctor that you might never compete again has to be more terrifying than any potential injury. This became Kleveland’s reality in 2018 when his kneecap was “shattered into multiple pieces.” Perhaps it was his youthful defiance or the fact that snowboarding had been his passion since he began at the age of 3. Nevertheless, when Kleveland received this news, he set about preparing his body to ensure his return to competition.
“I don’t think I ever truly comprehended the severity of the situation,” he stated. “For me, I didn’t want to dwell on it. It was a case of, I’m definitely making a comeback and I’ll be 100%. I wasn’t concerned with what the doctors were telling me.”
Marcus Kleveland attests that he never questioned his abilities or experienced moments of despondency during his rehabilitation. His family and friends played a crucial role in keeping his spirits high. He also engaged in extensive gaming and kept his mind occupied. He missed the following two years before making his comeback at the X Games in 2020, securing the silver in the Big Air competition that year. Given that the injury occurred even before he could legally enter a bar, his reflections on recovering from an injury seem remarkably mature for his age.
“I feel that at the point of getting injured, one must maintain a positive outlook,” he remarked. “Whatever has transpired is in the past and beyond your control. You only have to remain optimistic and look ahead.”
Nervous Anticipation is Part of The Game
The X Games stands as one of the annual highlights. Competitors aim to deliver a stellar performance and exhibit their best abilities. Despite being a 13-time X Games medalist, Kleveland admits to still feeling nervous. The nerves stem from the anticipation of the electrifying atmosphere and striving to surpass his own benchmarks. However, his confidence remains unwavering due to the groundwork he lays before approaching the starting line.
“I just make it a point to snowboard extensively before the competition, which allows me to master the fundamentals and envision the runs I’m about to execute,” Kleveland revealed. “This breeds self-belief because I have executed these maneuvers countless times before. It’s all about delivering when it matters.”
Listening to music from Travis Scott and Don Toliver generally helps Kleveland relax and concentrate on the task at hand.
Keep up with Marcus Kleveland on Instagram @marcuskleveland. Watch live coverage of the X Games on ESPN, ESPN2, and ABC.