- Freestyle Skiing
Catching up with defending moguls gold medalist Hannah Kearney
Hannah Kearney is heading to Sochi for her third Olympics, this time as the defending champion. Saying she'll retire afterwards, this will also be her final Winter Games. Kearney, 27, spoke with NBCOlympics.com to talk about life after moguls, relationship with her teammates, who is her main competition and one amazing chocolate pudding.
Who has impressed you the most during the selection events?
The Canadian team has been very strong. It’s hard to not notice them when at Deer Valley you’re on the podium and the five other people on the podium are Canadian.
What are your thoughts on the Dufour-Lapointe sisters?
I respect they train all together, which is unusual for our sport since we’re an individual sport. I know they work hard and have a strong support system from sport psychs to coaches to trainers and aerial coaches. They are probably the future fo our sport.
Do you consider them your main competition in Sochi?
Not to sound arrogant, but I generally consider myself to be my greatest competition. I guess rivalries and competitions, you have other people, but for me, when you’re at the top I’m focusing on what I have to do.
What’s your relationship with teammate Heather McPhie?
I consider my teammates almost family and in that relationship we respect each other, but we have our differences and at the end of the day we want to win and that means beating each other. I know Heather and I have very different personalities, but also very different strengths in our skiing. She’s more known for her jumps, I’m more known for my turns.
The head of the website Infostrada – who predicts Olympic medal winners – said of all the U.S. athletes likely to win a medal, he’d put his money on Hannah Kearney winning gold.
I’d put my money on me too.
Does this boost your confidence or add any pressure?
Well, a little bit of both. I’m old enough and mature enough now to know that someone’s predictions isn’t going to change the outcome of the event. Malcolm Gladwell’s new book is about how everyone loves an underdog. Now I’m not the underdog. Everyone wants to beat me and cheers for other people and that motivates me. When I hear something like that it’s a testament of the work I’ve done up to this point, but it doesn’t really mean how I will perform on that one day.
With Sochi being your third Olympics, how have you changed form 2006?
What I’ve elarned is that I can’t go in with any expectation. Going into my first I realized it’s much different from what you see on TV. There’s security and I didn’t know all the interviews I’d have to do or how few people would attend the event. There’s no music or Olympic rings tht come on when watching on NBC. In a way it was a letdown, but I tried to block it all out and embrace what the Olympics spirit is – it is an event that everyone cares about and watches. In 2010 I went in and was the underdog and had nothing to prove. I soaked it up and skied well. I took those experiences and mimic those things that work. I’ll go in and knowing it’s my last I’ll soak it up because I’m not going to do this again.
Did you go to Sochi for the test event.
Yes, I really liked the course. It was like the one in Vancouver.
Do you have any concerns about the course, weather or Sochi?
I don’t because all of those things will effect everyone else so it’s fair play. If It’s pouring rain, it’s pouring rain for everyone. I also had a positive experience on the course - I won there.
Embedded owg_slideshow: Freestyle skiers take Sochi course for a test run
What are your thoughts on moguls being the first event?
I love it! That’s the way it was in Vancouver. It’s also an opoportuniyt to enjoy the Olympics afterwards.
If you make it to the final round – which is on Saturday – will you go to Opening Ceremonies?
I will attend. It’s something I picked up on my previous two experiences. In 2010 I went to the Opening Cremony even though it was the night before an event. in 2006 I didn’t go. The Opening Ceremony is the epitome of the Olympics, even though it’s at the beginning of the Olympics. It’s the only time the entire team is together. Your country is one. Everyone is wearing a Ralph Lauren uniform, you’re all matching, you’re part of a team that’s part of the country. It’s special. There’s nothing else like that so I won’t miss the opportunity.
Embedded video_content_type: Hannah Kearney 'so excited' to represent U.S. in Sochi
What are thoughts on the new freestyle disciplines entering the Olympics?
I think it’s great to have more skiing. It’s wonderful skiing is popular eough to have events, but on a selfish note, it has taken spots away from our team. It’s disappointing, but it’s not their fault. Wish we could have equal number of spots.
You said this will be your final Olympics. Are you retiring from the sport entirely or just the Olympics?
Well, I’m not wiling to commit to four more years to skiing, but not willing to commit to retirement. I’ve also learned a lot from other athletes watching their retirement announcement and not do so prematurely. I feel confident that in 2018 I will be focusing on finishing up my degree, but it will be hard to leave a sport you love and feel motivated to train for.
Embedded video_content_type: Hannah Kearney's legend grows after dominating at Deer Valley
How is college going?
Oh, it’s going. I’m a freshman at Dartmouth. I applied after the 2010 Olympics and been plugging along one term at a time. The victory here is I got into a really good school and when I go I work my butt off to get the best grades I can, but I haven’t really allowed myself to plan too much the rest of my life because I’m so wrapped up in skiing. As far as a major or career path, I don’t know yet.
What does Hannah Kearney enjoy doing off snow?
I enjoy very commonplace things that are related to homemaking, which may be related to living out of a suitcase all year. I love to be in my kitchen. I love cooking, baking, grocery shopping, knitting, organizing, cleaning.
What do you cook?
I have a great relationship with Bear Naked granola and Chobani so as a result I experiment with those two products. I use Chobani to make smoothies and marinate chicken. I use the Bear Naked as a topping on this healthy avocado, banana chocolate pudding. I’m only cooking for myself so if it goes wrong it’s OK.
What’s the avocado recipe?
It’s one avocado, one banana, maple syrup, vanilla, cinnomen, peanut butter and cocoa powder. You blend it all together and it’s like a healthy chocolate pudding, sort of. To make it a heartier snack I top it with Bear Naked nut granola, and with some sea salt.
Since you live out of a suitcase from competing around the world, where do you love to compete at most?
Are, Sweden is one of my favorite towns to visit. It’s this lakeside mountain town and has some of the best food I eat all year. There’s a bakery in town which is one of my most favorite spots in the world. We also go out to dinner where we cook a slab of raw reindeer meat on a hot stove and eat that. It’s a highlight.
Embedded owg_slideshow: Model Olympian: Hannah Kearney
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