- Alpine Skiing
Alpine origins: Leanne Smith
American Leanne Smith made her Olympic debut in Vancouver at the age of 23, finishing 18th in super-G and 21st in super-combined. As she prepares for the Sochi Olympics, she took time to recall how she got her start in the sport.
How did you get started in skiing?
I got started skiing when I was about five years old. There was a small mountain right outside my home town called Mount Cranmore. My dad groomed there when I was growing up, so he gave us passes, guest passes, for my sister and I so we could ski there for free all year long. And it’s a really great place to grow up skiing, passion for skiing there is like nothing I've ever seen before. I had people pushing me in the right direction.
Was there anyone in particular who pushed you in that right direction?
I was fortunate to be coached by a former Olympian, Tyler Palmer. He was part of the 1972 Games. And he just instilled the passion for skiing, and that's what really it's all about, is having fun and being with people you love and pushing yourself to do things that you never thought that you'd be doing. He instilled the aggressiveness and the toughness in me from when I was a youngster. So it was a great place to be, a lotta history in the sport of skiing there, and I couldn't have asked for a better place to grow up skiing.
Embedded owg_slideshow: Through the lens: U.S. Alpine team
What specifically would Tyler do to instill that aggressiveness?
Tyler would just say, "Do your thing, and go as fast as you can." And since I was a kid, I mean, I wasn't always the best technically but I always went for it. And that's something that you can't teach. And I think that the coaches there, including Tyler and even my my dad a little bit instilled going fast and not being afraid.
As you're trying to go a bit faster, maybe push the envelope a little bit, was there a fear factor to overcome?
Yeah, nerves are a tough thing. It's something you have to overcome. You have to take the adrenaline and the nervousness and know how to use it. Because obviously, if you're not nervous, you're not human. And to be at the start and be like, "Well, I don't really know about doin' this," or, you know, dropping off a cliff, whatever it may be, you have to talk yourself into knowing that you're confident and that you have the ability to do well on it. Be confident in yourself and self-talk. It's all about telling yourself that you can do something and hopefully it works out.
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