For almost a decade I’ve been fighting my way up the world ranks and through injuries to finally realize my goal of being a full-time World Cup ski racer in giant slalom and super giant slalom (or super-G). The road to this point has been a very long one, but I have a great feeling about where this season is headed.
I’ve been a member of the U.S. team for more than nine years, been on four world championship teams and was a 2010 Olympian. And I still have very big goals.
It’s a huge highlight of this season that the Olympics are taking place. For every athlete, it is something special to be remembered as an Olympic medalist, and for me, to win a medal would be a childhood dream come true.
However, I have to remain focused on what is in front of me daily -- the World Cup Tour. One of the biggest misconceptions about the Olympics is that athletes train their entire lives just for this one event. While we do train hard with the hopes of being an Olympian, the reality is that we also train year-round all over the world to compete on our World Cup Tour.
As any ski racer can tell you, life is generally spent living out of a suitcase eight months of the year, traveling the world. Having an apartment for the other four months doesn’t make much sense, so though it says Reno on my bio as a hometown, my true hometown is a bit harder to pinpoint.
I currently reside in Bergen, Germany with my girlfriend, Anja, who’s from Bavaria in southern Germany. Tucked tight to the Alps and centralized to almost every World Cup, Bavaria is an ideal place to train and live as a pro skier and, quite frankly, just a great place to be even if you aren’t an athlete. The summers remind me of Lake Tahoe, near where I grew up, and in the winter, because I live here, my time spent in hotels is cut in half.
One of the biggest drawbacks to being an American ski racer is the extended time away from home. Sleeping in a different bed every day and eating the same old hotel food gets tiresome. When I’m living in Europe I can do my races and then drive home right away. I can cook my own food, sleep in my own bed and get some very important down time before I have to meet back up with the team for training and racing.
After many years of “learning by doing” I speak fluent German now, which makes life a whole lot easier as well. The language barrier is one of the toughest things to deal with for young guys coming onto the team. I hated the idea of not being able to take care of myself, so I learned the language. It wasn’t easy because there are many different dialects, but after all these years -- and a lot of help from Anja -- I have it down.
So for now, I’m training hard and racing weekly. I really feel I can make my way into the top 15 in the giant slalom rankings by season’s end. I also think I have the ability to make my way onto a World Cup podium for the first time.
And, of course, I’m excited about the upcoming Games in Sochi. The beauty of the Olympics is that is has no bearing on the World Cup rankings. The idea is simple: it is all or nothing, for a medal.
I look forward to sharing my road to Sochi with you. And for me, hopefully, it will be “all” for a medal.