Olympic Q & A: Hannah Kearney, USA Freestyle Skiing

Raised on a farm, Hannah Kearney definitely has an appreciation for animals, nature, and "real food." And as the winner of the World Cup moguls title in 2008-09, Kearney is making her second Olympic appearance in 2010, hopefully coming back with the Gold.

MindBodyGreen: You were a 3 sport athlete in high school (skiing, soccer and track) – were you always athletic? Was skiing your first love? 

Hannah Kearney: I have always been athletic since I was lucky enough to inherit those genes, but my parents encouraged me to try every sport. My mom went so far as to bribe me into trying track by promising me new running shoes if I ran in a track meet. I was a shy kid, easily intimidated, but after my first blue ribbon, I was hooked. Skiing was the first sport I ever tried and the only one I am still pursuing. I learned how to ski before I can remember and it has always been a huge part of my life.

MBG: What do you love about freestyle skiing? 

HK: The feeling when you cross the finish line, after you’ve skied the best mogul run you can, is unbeatable. To navigate one's way, cleanly, directly and quickly through a field of moguls with two breaks to fly through the air and execute difficult tricks is incredibly difficult. This fact and all the training that goes into our sport makes it hugely satisfying to lay down an outstanding performance.

MBG: You grew up on a farm – what was that like?

HK: Technically it wasn’t a proper farm because we had very little land, but I grew up with horses, chickens, a goat, a cat, a dog, and rabbits. My mom also tended a very successful garden, fertilized by some of the aforementioned. Local eating and farmers markets are very much in vogue right now, but a dinner of spaghetti squash and a salad with greens, tomatoes, carrots and zucchini from the summer garden was normal for me as a child. I also have fond memories of being in charge of the ring of sunflowers that towered above my head and created a fort. The pumpkins we cultivated into epic jack-o-lanterns were larger than my brother and I combined. The farm upbringing I had made me fall in love with animals and gave me an appreciation for real food that I still have today.

MBG: What’s a typical training day like?

HK: It depends on the time of year. In the summer I eat breakfast at 7am , warm up with an ab routine and stretching at 8, jump on the trampoline for an hour and into a pool with skis on my feet for another hour before a lunch break.I usually fit in a 20 minute nap before returning to the pool to practice my jumps again. Next it is time for a cup of coffee before my dryland workout which is either a strength session with weights in the gym, or a run in the woods with my dog. In the winter, during the competition season, I warm up with a bike and jump rope routine before skiing for an hour or two on the mogul course that I will compete on in two days time. Because we travel every week to a new event, it is important to stay as fresh as possible, so the afternoons are dedicated to refueling and helping your muscles recover by spinning out the lactic acid on a bike or soaking them in a tub of cold water.

MBG: How did you come back after tearing your ACL? Was there a silver lining with this injury?

HK: The sliver lining to the knee surgery was that I was able to adopt a dog and watch an entire season’s worth of my brother’s hockey games. The time away from the sport and hectic traveling lifestyle refreshed me and gave me time to properly learn how to train my body for mogul skiing. The motivation I had to return to competition made me realize I was still passionate about the sport.

MBG: How do you relax before you compete?

HK: Right before my run at the top of the course, I listen to music and walk around in my ski boots. I dislike dancing, but I am definitely moving to the music and focusing on the sounds in my headphones and not the external noises of the competition environment.

MBG: What’s on your playlist before you compete?

HK: I listen to a mix of upbeat classic rock and current pop music. Van Morrison, Tom Petty, Akon, Tracy Chapman,  Britney Spears, Peter Gabriel.

MBG: What does mind/body/green mean to you?

HK: To me, this means that being green is a lifestyle that may start as a conscious choice, but becomes part of your being. It is an awareness that promotes a better life for everyone.

MBG: Favorite quote? 

HK: A bit commercial, but it is simple and to the point, which speaks to me: "Just do it."

MBG: Favorite healthy food?

HK: Spinach. I put it in my eggs every morning and add it to soups, pasta, sandwiches I cook.

MBG: Guilty indulgence?

HK: I like to bake so the chocolate mint chip cookies and pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese frosting that come out of my oven are my guilty indulgence. However, I prefer not to feel guilty about food, so I think of them as occasional treats.

For more on Hannah Kearney:

Hannah Kearney for Gold Facebook Fan Page

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