Born To Speed

Steve Hartman may ask for hazard pay after this week's "Assignment America."
Steve Hartman may ask for hazard pay after this week's "Assignment America."

He's the best 13-year-old snowboarder in the country - and has the medals to prove it.

His name is Roger Carver, and in snowboarding lingo, he carves his way down the mountain.

He gets his perfect name from Terrie and Dave Carver, who adopted him when his life was going downhill in a very different way.

"He was extremely sick," said Terrie Carver. "The older he got the more trouble he was getting into."

Roger's birth mother was hooked on the illegal stimulant methamphetamine.
And that left him, like many meth babies, extremely hyperactive, almost from birth.

But then at age 5, Roger discovered snowboarding, and his mother discovered a new reason to worry.

"I look and he's coming down that hill right over there, flying down doing airs where there's no jump, and i think: oh I'm in trouble," said Terrie

But Roger doesn't seem to share his mother's apprehension about snowboarding.

"It kinda looks like she's going to puke or something," he said smiling.

Soon he was winning everything in sight.

Roger's snowboarding talent raises an interesting question — did his prenatal exposure to methamphetamines play any role in making him a daring athlete?

Consider this: Meth exposure is known to block the brain's reception of the pleasure producing chemical dopamine. So in pursuit of pleasure, scientists theorize, kids like Roger can become thrill seekers, thriving on danger.

For Roger's coach Ed Mclain, Roger's condition has been a gift, and a challenge.

"You look at him and you could tell right away there was raw talent," said Roger's coach, Ed McLain.

Roger takes medication to counteract his hyperactivity and when he misses his pill.

"You can kinda tell, he gets that little laugh going, you start knowing something's up — he loses focus," said McLain.

"I just feel wild and crazy and everybody else thinks I am too," said Carver.

The pill that calms Roger is an amphetamine, related to the methamphetamine that caused his problems. That's doubly ironic since amphetamines are on the list of banned substances for the Olympic games, where Roger one day hopes to compete.

"He knows that the pill might keep him out of the Oylmpics — hey that's what I gotta take — that's what I gotta do," said Terrie.

But the Olympic dream isn't going away. On the snowboard Roger has an uncanny ability to recover when it looks certain he'll crash. It's an ability he also seems to have in life.