Olympics hopeful Tyler Jewell understands sacrifice.
This summer, the Alpine snowboarder gave up TV, indoor plumbing and the security that comes from living between four walls and under a roof.
In an effort to save money and train full time, Jewell has been living in a 7-by-9-foot tent on the property of one of his coaches. The move allowed him to maintain a demanding training schedule and focus on training instead of work.
"It was one of the easiest choices I ever made," Jewell said about spending $29 for a four-person tent instead of $750 a month for rent. "I don't want people feeling sorry for me. I'm here because of the choices I made."
Jewell purchased a membership at the Steamboat Springs Heath & Recreation Center so he would have a place to shower. He eats his meals at the Yampa Valley Medical Center dining hall, where he said the food is inexpensive, tasty and nutritious.
From time to time, he has to share his patch of pastureland with cattle. It's a place Jewell now calls home.
"It's was a little scary the first time I came home in the dark and saw those dark spots with eyes staring back at me," Jewell said. "It's a funny thing, but I found myself trying to negotiate with them."
Instead of watching TV, Jewell watches deer, elk and turkey vultures roaming just outside the open flap of his tent.
Instead of pining for a comfortable sofa, he focuses on the positive side of his experience and keeps track of his adventure in the pages of a journal.
"I used to love to watch the Discovery Channel -- now all I have to do is look out my door," Jewell joked.
His story is unusual in a world where top-level athletes usually are pampered -- or at least housed.
Jewell appeared to be on the fast track a few years ago, when he became part of The Home Depot's Olympic Job Opportunities Program. But he learned the hard way that support for national-level athletes can be fickle.
Somewhere between his home in Sudbury, Mass., and Colorado, where he planned to start his run for an Olympics berth, the carpet was pulled out from under him.
Someone changed the rules between the 2002 and 2003 seasons, and Jewell was left holding his snowboard.
"I was mad when I lost my Home Depot job," Jewell said. "But I'm glad that it happened when it did. If they had called me when I was still at home, I might never have come here. I might have given up snowboarding altogether."
But he didn't, and through an unlikely series of events, Jewell ended up in Steamboat Springs with snowboard coach Thedo Remmelink.
Now, Jewell is one of the top snowboarders on the U.S. team and a favorite to land a shot at the Olympics.
However, like many of the country's top riders, he's decided to train with the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club this season and not with the U.S. team.
He also has picked up the support of Welch and other private sponsors that will help cover some of the costs of competing. But if the sponsors' money is not enough to pay the bills, Jewell said he is willing to go into debt to chase his dream.
Jewell will be leaving for a camp in Chili in the next few weeks and says he is in the best shape of his life. When he returns, he knows he will have to find alternative housing when nighttime temperatures continue to spiral downward. But his goals and what he is willing to do to reach them will not change.
"I want to prove to myself that I can be the best in the world at something," Jewell said. "Making it to the Olympics would be really cool. But even if I don't make it that far, I would never trade this experience. For me, snowboarding is a vehicle to grow as a person. I think my experiences will make me whole some day."