Freeskier Keri Herman preps for Sochi, reflects on Olympic medal possibilities

It's easy to smile this big when you snag podiums like Keri Herman; photo courtesy of Sarah Brunson/U.S. Freeskiing

It’s easy to smile this big when you snag podiums like Keri Herman. Photo courtesy of Sarah Brunson/U.S. Freeskiing

Keri Herman was never supposed to be a freeskiing force. She was supposed to play hockey like the rest of her friends in Minnesota—and she did for much of her childhood—but something went awry. Keri went off to college at the University of Denver, was introduced to park skiing, and that was it—she became forever a skier. In 2007 she announced her competitive slopestyle debut with a win at the New Zealand Freeski Open and has since grabbed a World Championship medal and a pair of Winter X Games podiums. Most recently the slopestyle skier based out of Breckenridge, Colorado, took home the first World Cup title in women's slopestyle skiing history. She is part of a strong crew of U.S. women with their eyes on the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, and the first ever slopestyle skiing events in the Olympics. We caught up with the excitable World Cup champ to see what it's like to be a pro skier with Olympic dreams and a competitive itch, and here's what she had to say.

The life of a pro skier is pretty non-stop. How was the summer and what are you up to these days?
Oh yeah! Since the season has ended here in Breckenridge, I’ve skied in Mammoth, Whistler, and Perisher, Australia. Next week I’m heading out to New Zealand for a couple weeks. It gets pretty expensive, but it's so much fun and important to stay on my game when the Olympics are just around the corner.

You won the FIS Slopestyle World Cup last season. How did that compare to other podiums in your career? Where's that Crystal Globe?
That's an excellent question. I’ve been trying to hunt down that globe since last season to no avail. It was really cool winning the World Cup last season, because it was the first time we’ve ever been a part of it. I didn't even know what the Globe was until I won it (laughs).

Skiing has always been communal, but until recently you guys were kind of on your own. What's it like being part of a team like U.S. Freeskiing?
Being a part of the team is great, but I still like doing my own thing. I work way better when I’m on my own program. That’s why I took a month trip over to Australia all by myself to ski at Perisher. It was so much fun over there, and I seriously can't wait to go back. I like going on new adventures because I don't like to let anything become routine. Have to keep the excitement going!

What are the goals for this year, and how do the Olympics factor in?
To stay healthy. Since the Olympics only comes around every four years, it's really scary to think we’re this close and any little injury could prevent you from going.

What would an Olympic a medal mean to you?
Holy smokes! That would be incredible. I don't even want to think about it because it would be that cool.

If you're at the Olympics come February, what's one other event you'd like to go to and why?
I definitely want to catch a hockey game. I grew up playing hockey and with some of the people on the Olympic teams, so I’d love to watch them kill it over in Russia.