Snowboarder Elena Hight, 24, is living in a pressure cooker. As a member of the U.S. Snowboarding team, she's in a unique spot. She's the first girl to ever land the super risky and tough alley-oop double backside rodeo in a halfpipe competition, so you'd think her position on the 2014 Olympic Snowboarding team in Sochi, Russia, was secure, but it isn't. Due to the sheer numbers of talented snowboarders in the U.S., the Olympic team is chosen after a series of five qualifying events. The first contest—the Breckinridge, Colorado, stop of the ongoing Dew Tour—took place in December, the fourth starts this Saturday, and the last, a U.S. Snowboarding Grand Prix, begins in Mammoth Lakes, California, on January 15th. After points have been tallied, the team will be announced. It is then that Height will know her fate for the Sochi Games.
Not surprisingly, this high-stakes winter will be tough for most of the athletes involved, including Hight. We caught up with her just before the first event of the season to ask her how she deals with everything. Here is some of what she had to say. And to keep up with Hight all season long, check out her new web video series, Hight Hopes, and her blog on elenahight.com.
It’s a big year in winter sports. What’s your mindset in an Olympic year like?
There is always a lot more pressure and attention surrounding snowboarding during an Olympic year. I am just trying to stay focused on snowboarding and have as much fun as possible on the mountain.
Do you have a different approach to training with Sochi on the horizon?
I have been more focused in the months coming up to this season than I ever have before. I spent a lot of time on snow this summer as well as off-snow just preparing for the winter.
How do you stay fit and relaxed when you are in season and on the road?
The main thing I do during the season—other than snowboard—is yoga. It really has helped me stay flexible and fight off injuries, while keeping my strength up.
What kind of music do you like?
I like to listen to a variety of music, depending on what I am up to. Lately I have been into Lady Gaga’s new stuff, FMLYBND, Lorde, and Passion Pit.
Can you share a few of your travel essentials when you pack your bags for a snowboard trip or contest?
When I am on the road I always travel with gum, Nixon headphones, and clean socks in my backpack. And, I always pack incense, candles, snacks, and a foam roller to have wherever I am headed.
How about books? Is there anything that you’ve read recently that was particularly inspiring?
I just finished reading “Rafa,” Rafael Nadal’s book. It was amazing to hear about his athletic career from his point of view.
We heard that you’re a serious chef and occasionally cook for the entire snow team. What foods are you into right now?
I love to cook Thai food—lots of stir-frys and curries. [Check out her recipe for Spicy Curry Roasted Lima Beans on Boarding for Breast Cancer's site.]
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