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February 20, 2002

Outtakes with Jonny Moseley

UNCUT OUTTAKES: A condensed version of Dan Patrick's pre-Olympics interview with Jonny Moseley, winner of the 1998 freestyle skiing gold medal, appears in the Feb. 18 edition of ESPN The Magazine.'s Winter Olympics coverage

Jonny Moseley
Jonny Moseley, the 1998 Olympic freestyle skiing gold medalist, practices before the 2002 Olympics.
DP: Do you spend a lot of time watching the Weather Channel?
JM: Sometimes I do. I always get a glimpse of it, at least once a day or so.
DP: Do you say, "I've skied there. Wonder what it's doing there?" Or you see it's snowing a lot and say, "I wish I was there"?
JM: Yeah, sometimes. It depends ... in Olympic years it's different, but sometimes when you're doing filming for a ski movie, stuff like that, yeah, you're looking for where the weather is so you can travel to it.

DP: Favorite athletes growing up?
JM: Say, can we go to the next question? Do you have a list of questions, or is it just sort of conversation?
DP: Kind of conversation.
JM: Because sometimes I can -- like, I don't always have them right off the top of my head...
DP: OK, that's fine. I could always go back. Do you still have the '64 Bonneville?
JM: I do still have the '64 Bonneville, but I don't really drive it that much. But, yeah, I've got it.
DP: So that's one of those you just keep, and you go out and dust it off occasionally, start it up and then that's it?
JM: Yeah, I just keep -- I just drive it around in the summer sometimes.
DP: Is that a chickmobile?
JM: Kind of ... it works with the girls.
DP: Because they'd probably say, "What kind of car is that?"
JM: Exactly. And it's huge. So ... it works.
DP: You can't miss it.
JM: You can't miss it, yeah.

DP: Help me out with the Super G event ... doesn't that sound like a rapper? "Hey, I'm Super G."
JM: That would be a hot rapper name.
DP: Yeah. It sounds more like a rapper than a sport.
JM: It does sound more like a rapper than a sport. But I don't do Super G, you know.
DP: Yeah, but I just figured you could help me out with the terminology there.
JM: Oh, yeah, yeah.
DP: What terms would you like to change in your sport? There are moguls and bumps, but is there anything else that you just don't like the name that's attached to it?
JM: Well ...
DP: There's got to be something where you say, "That's a stupid name."
JM: Well, I wish they would call our sport -- I wish they would take freestyle skiing and change it back to hot dog.
DP: But then you wouldn't be taken seriously.
JM: That's true, but that's OK.
DP: You don't care about that?
JM: I just think they've made too much of a push to be taken seriously, you know? And I think that sports are a little more about entertainment and kind of putting on a show than about seriousness -- I mean, as serious as it is, I wish it was a little less defined, you know.

DP: Do you view yourself as a true Olympic athlete or are you just an entertainer competing in the Olympics?
JM: I personally feel like the term athlete is a little bit boring to me, you know? I more consider myself an entertainer, as far as that goes, and would welcome being called that. Because the problem with being called an athlete all the time is that somehow I have to, like, behave like what an athlete's supposed to behave like ... especially an Olympic athlete, who's just so pigeonholed with the name -- stoic, always nose to the grindstone, sacrificing ... I feel like I'd have a lot more leeway as far as how I'm allowed to behave if I wasn't considered an Olympic athlete.
DP: But what would you do differently? How would you act differently if I said you were just an entertainer and not an Olympic athlete? You're an Olympic entertainer as opposed to an Olympic athlete? What would change about you?
JM: It wouldn't be so much how I would change. ... After the '98 Olympics, I took some time off. Well, I didn't take time off, actually. I was still doing skiing. I was doing the X Games and filming movies and stuff like that, always with the intention of coming back to the Olympics. But of course the Olympic mainstream press, before I qualified for these Olympics, every headline's like "Party Boy This" or "Party Boy That."
DP: But is there anything wrong with being labeled that?
JM: No, but for some reason ...
DP: Because it sounds like you don't want somebody to define you, and by saying you're an athlete, therefore we're defining you. And you say, "You know what? I'm an entertainer." And there's more of a gray area attached to that than being like the guy who's an Olympic speed skater.
JM: Yeah, exactly. I don't want to be the same guy who's an Olympic speed skater. I mean, I don't really care how they define me. They define me so much, but ... it just seems like the title of athlete doesn't really fit me, is all I'm saying.

DP: Do you party like a rock star?
JM: Sometimes. And it's not like athletes don't do that. I mean, for sure.
DP: You would rather put it up front and say, "You know what? This is who I am. Let's not kid anybody."
JM: Yeah ... see, what happens is when you're considered an athlete and then you get the party boy reputation, then people don't consider you an athlete anymore. So then what are you? DP: You're a party boy.
JM: Yeah, exactly ... you know, why is it OK if you're a professional musician, for example, to do whatever they want as far as their extracurricular life and still perform in their career? Whereas with an Olympic athlete, supposedly it's not OK, even when they still create the same results?

DP: Where's the Olympic gold medal (from 1998)?
JM: It's in the safe deposit box.
DP: See, doesn't it suck that you really -- I mean, you win it, and you've got to hide it?
JM: Yeah, there's a lot of things that suck about it. First of all, that I don't have a secure enough home -- it's like a revolving door at my house ... My mom, you know, keeps it locked up. I can't really carry it around with me. And then the worst part about it is I'm not even allowed to like use it to -- I can't even, you know, use my title, like companies can't use my title without paying the Olympic Committee some exorbitant amount.
DP: So they can't introduce you as an Olympic gold medalist without paying some money to the Olympics?
JM: No, they can't. Isn't that crazy?
DP: So when you do the phone commercial, you can get around that by not saying "Olympic gold medalist."
JM: Exactly ... you'll notice they won't say "Olympic gold medalist."
DP: OK. That's interesting.
JM: So it's just a little side note.

DP: What's the one question that you're asked no matter where you go?
JM: The first one people ask me no matter where I go.
DP: You've got the answer ready because you know it's coming ...
JM: Oh. "Dude, did that gold medal help you get a lot of chicks?" (laughs)
DP: And your answer is?
JM: The answer is it's deterred girls, because the quality girls think I have so many girls that they won't hang out with me.
DP: See, that's when you want to win the silver medal, because then the girls feel sorry for you.
JM: That's what I'm going for this year (laughs). People are like, "Are you going for a gold?" And I'm saying, "No, I already have gold. I'm going for silver."
DP: "Gold screwed up my life, man. I want sliver."
JM: Exactly. I want to be just in the money, but out of the flowers.

DP: When did you start your infatuation with cheesecake?
JM: With cheesecake?
DP: Yeah. What happened there?
JM: I don't know. I probably mentioned that I like cheesecake and all of a sudden, it's all over the place. I don't know. I'm kind of a sucker for other desserts, too.
DP: Now, is there cheesecake photography?
JM: Cheesecake photography? What's that?
DP: I don't know. Do you, like, take pictures of cheesecakes?
JM: No.
DP: Oh, OK. I didn't know if this was a fetish.
JM: No, it's really not. There's no story behind it. It got blown out of proportion somewhere along the line.
DP: It's funny how the media does that.
JM: Exactly.

DP: Any regular sports in your life? Regular in the sense of, every American would do or has done?
JM: I've always loved soccer and basketball ... I really like tennis right now. Those are the main three sports I really like.
DP: You probably do lake boarding or water skiing?
JM: Yeah. I grew up as an action-sports junkie. I've always done the lake boarding and did a lot of wind surfing and sailing and surfing.

DP: If you were going to talk to me in your lingo, the vernacular of your sport, give me a sentence where I'd have absolutely no clue what you were talking about. But anybody in freestyle skiing would know exactly what you were talking about.
JM: Well, when I came off the first rail I greased it pretty well, but I just got a little off balance because I couldn't see over my left foot, and when I rode into the second kicker switch, I did a switch rodeo nine and landed straight, stopped that, stopped that pretty good...(laughs)
DP: Yes, you lost me ... you probably see people who try to act like they know exactly what your sport is all about, but they're bluffing their way through it. I mean, I can ski, but when it comes to freestyle skiing, I have no clue.
JM: It's so obscure. You know, you've got freestyle skiing, and now you've actually got free skiing. And I'm always having to explain to people the difference between all these different types of skiing. And then I'm doing this trick in the Olympics called the dinner roll, which is like a flat pin 720. And really the only way for me to explain it is to get down on the ground and sort of roll around. (laughs)
DP: Do you do that at parties?
JM: Sometimes ... people don't know what to think of it. Everyone just nods and says, "Yeah, yeah, yeah."

DP: If you weren't skiing, what would you be doing? Where would I see you?
JM: I think I'd be ... I don't know.
DP: Would you be working in, like, an In-N-Out Burger? Would you be a bartender? Would you be a teacher, a firefighter?
JM: I'd probably be in school. I'd probably still be in school trying to study mechanical engineering.
DP: Wow.
JM: Yeah. Or I'd be, like, living in New York, something like that, doing something.

DP: Is there a fear factor in your sport?
JM: I'm scared all the time. I try not to be scared, but then every time you get up in the air or you approach a jump ... it gets worse as you get older, too, because I've hit my head enough times and broken myself enough to know how quickly it happens and about the consequences.
DP: Start from top to bottom, head to toe -- give me the injuries.
JM: I really have been lucky. I don't have a lot of injuries, but I have had some significant ones. Probably eight to 10 concussions and a broken scapula, which was fun.
DP: You probably didn't know what it was until you broke it.
JM: Exactly. I've really learned -- I really know a lot about bones. Then I've had standard whiplash, injured knees, broken wrists, some hematomas -- and that's been about it.
DP: Do you compare?
JM: Oh, I had a bulging disk in my back. I'm not really one of the guys who's been injured a lot.
DP: Do you compare with other freestyle skiers? Like, you know, "I had this." And then somebody would top you?
JM: I don't even compare ... there are guys out there with multiple blown knees. Once you get the blown knees, you know, you've got a problem.

DP: What do you know about the vandalism from the '98 Winter Games?
JM: I don't know anything about that.
DP: Yeah, right.
JM: I would have been right there had I known. We didn't even stay in the Olympic Village. We stayed up by the mountain ... I really haven't experienced the Olympics, man. That's why I'm going back to this one because at (Nagano) I came in, we stayed two days in the Olympic Village, and then we went up to our venue and stayed there the whole time. And then I won, blasted straight home, and went on the talk-show circuit ... I didn't even go to the opening ceremonies ... I experienced the Olympics in a very '90s fashion, which I think is media-driven and mostly about winning and promotion and getting shuffled around like that. That's the way I experienced it. But I definitely didn't experience it in -- how should I say it? -- a cultural way.
DP: You didn't do it in an innocent way, where you soaked it all in and had tears streaming down your face?
JM: No. I was there to win. (laughs)

DP: What's the worst job you ever held?
JM: The worst job I ever held? Well, that would be no job. (laughs)
DP: How is it a job to not have a job?
JM: The worst job I've ever had is trying to pretend like you have a job when you don't have a job. (laughs)
DP: But why were you pretending?
JM: Because when you're in the top .05 percent in the world and all your friends are working or in school, you try to figure out what to do on a daily basis ... my job has pretty much always been to ski. I mean, I've been under contract to ski, like, you know, since I was 16 years old.
DP: Oh, wow. Good for you. If you can do it.
JM: It's great ... but you know, the hardest job I've ever had is learning how to negotiate -- trying to run a ski career at 17 years old and deal with offers and stuff like that.

DP: What music is playing in your head when you're skiing moguls?
JM: It usually depends. A lot of different music.
DP: Like?
JM: Like -- hold on. Let me think for a second. What was playing through my head the last time? It was -- oh, I believe I was humming -- what's that song? Oh, yeah, it was Jay-Z or something like that ... And I've been humming a lot of this guy Jack Johnson.
DP: I've actually got that CD.
JM: I love that guy. We just saw him play here, like, a couple days ago, and he's a cool guy. So I hum him a lot. And I like his words.
DP: How important is music to what you do?
JM: It's fairly important. It used to be more important. I used to really concentrate on it ... I used to listen to music before I competed so that I couldn't hear other people score and couldn't hear the crowd roaring for other people and stuff like that. But now I try to listen to the crowd and let it, like, get me going.
DP: Would you listen to something different before you competed than if you were driving in your car? Would it be a different mindset?
JM: I generally listened to something more calming before I competed as opposed to something that would jack me up, because I tended to get overanxious -- so I wanted something to bring me down. In my car, I like the beats. I like to make it vibrate.
DP: (laughs) The bass is kicking.
JM: Yeah.

DP: Do you think people in your sport are singled out more when they say, "We're going to drug test," but they're not drug testing for performance-enhancing drugs?
JM: I think they would definitely look at the snowboarding team a little more for the illicit drugs. ... But in general, I think they don't do that, really. You would think that, but they don't really do that much -- that's not really true. I really don't think the Olympic Committee is looking to bounce anyone out, unless they had cause. ... It's definitely a concern, and they can definitely look at someone's public lifestyle and say, "Test him."
DP: Would performance-enhancing drugs help in freestyle and mogul skiing?
JM: Oh, I'm sure. Oh, yeah. I mean, for certain ... the sport's all about quickness and being able to train longer and go higher and recover faster. Oh, most definitely.
DP: Do you think guys do steroids?
JM: On the mogul tour? I don't know. I can't even say. I have no idea. I have no suspicion.
DP: Would you prefer to have no idea? It's like a sprinter, when he lines up next to somebody and says, "Man, he's doing something. He's got to be doing something." And then it kind of weighs on his mind or takes him out of his game. Would you rather not think about it?
JM: I definitely look at people and wonder ... I believe truly that if you are on steroids, you would enhance your performance considerably, even though it's a very subjective sport that involves a lot of tricks. I think the misconception about steroids is that it only improves your physical strength, when in fact it improves your mental capacity and everything else -- your quickness, your intensity, all that stuff. But I don't worry about it, because what are you going to do about it? I'm not going to do it myself, so, you know, whatever.

DP: Favorite American ski resort.
JM: I really love Squaw Valley (at Lake Tahoe in California).
DP: Why?
JM: It's my home mountain; I grew up there. I just think it has incredible terrain. And I just like to climb it. I like the way the snow packs, the way it is with the weather. You get amazing really deep snow and really warm weather at the same time, so you get these amazingly epic skiing days. And then, in the summer it's incredible, too, with the lake there. All my friends are up there, you know.
DP: Do you think that East Coast skiing stinks? Do you say, "I'd never lower myself to go out there"?
JM: No. I've obviously spent a considerable amount of time on the East Coast, and the East Coast in the spring is all right. It doesn't really compare ... but there's a ton of moguls, which I like to do.
DP: I recently skied in Vermont, but I've never skied out West, and people say, "It's better to ski in Vermont and then go to Colorado as opposed to the other way around, because you'll be disappointed if you go to Colorado and then go back East."
JM: Definitely. So once you learn to ski on the East Coast, you'd probably appreciate the skiing out West a lot more.

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