Tahoe’s Hannah Teter working toward 4th straight Winter Olympics

Hannah Teter plans to go big in her attempt to qualify for a fourth straight Winter Olympics.

The South Lake Tahoe halfpipe gold and silver medalist wants to set the tone early.

“I wanna come out swinging with some new stuff,” Teter said in a phone interview with the Tribune. “I definitely have my work cut out for me. But the judges like my style.”

Her style of “going bigger, tweaking grabs and holding them longer” led to gold in 2006 in Torino, Italy and silver in 2010 in Vancouver, Canada. She finished just off the podium (fourth) in 2014 in Sochi, Russia.

Earlier this week Teter was screaming down groomers on her snowboard and performing tricks on a trampoline at Colorado’s Copper Mountain in preparation for the first of four qualifying events for the 2018 Olympic Games in PyeongChang, South Korea.

Competition started Thursday, Dec. 7, and runs through the weekend.

The second event is the following week, Dec. 15-16, at Breckenridge, Colorado. The third event is Jan. 10-13 at Snowmass, Colorado. And the fourth event moves west Jan. 17-20 to Mammoth Mountain. The Winter Games begin the following month (Feb. 9-25).

“I’m gearing up mentally, and I feel ready,” Teter said.

Moving west to earn, create gold

Teter, 30, grew up in Vermont and left for the West Coast and Lake Tahoe “as fast as possible.” That was 13 years ago.

“Have you been to the East Coast? It’s cold and cloudy and not much snow,” Teter laughed. “And Tahoe was always something on my goal list.”

She owns a house in Meyers and, like fellow Olympians Jamie Anderson and Maddie Bowman, calls Sierra-at-Tahoe her home mountain; although she doesn’t spend as much time there because she’s busy chasing the super pipe all over the world, places like New Zealand, for two months out of every year.

But she still remembers being blown away her first time at Sierra.

“You can just drop in anywhere and there are pillow powder lines,” said Teter. “Since I’m on the super pipe all the time, I love to ride powder whenever possible. And it’s so beautiful there.”

A couple years after Teter moved to Lake Tahoe, she was standing on top of the podium in Italy getting a gold medal draped around her neck.

Four years later in Vancouver, she was edged for gold. She earned silver by a sliver over longtime American teammate and fellow Vermonter Kelly Clark, 34, who is trying to reach her fifth straight Olympics.

Positive role model

Teter’s success has helped pave the way in her efforts to be a positive role model on and off the slopes. She formed Hannah’s Gold, a charity that raises funds for a number of projects in an impoverished Kenyan community. Teter teamed with a Vermont company to sell syrup and she donates sales and some of her contest winnings.

“We’ve almost equipped the whole town with clean water,” she said.

Teter, a global ambassador for Special Olympics, also had her own ice cream flavor made by Ben & Jerry’s: “Vermont’s Finest: Maple Blondie.” It’s a maple ice cream with blonde brownie chunks and a maple caramel swirl that features her posing with a snowboard on the label. It was a limited edition that has been brought back several times.

“It’s so addicting, and I’m not so much of a sugar fan as I am a salty fan,” Teter said. “Being the first woman athlete from Vermont to get an ice cream named after me, yeah it was pretty cool.”

Teter recently teamed with Bombas, a partner of Special Olympics, to produce a merino wool ski and snowboarding sock. She says they’re all she wears.

“We’re in our second year, we have a lot better design and we donate a pair every time we sell a pair,” Teter said.

Going for history

Since halfpipe snowboarding became an Olympic event in 1998, no rider in five games has won twice. Clark has won gold and two bronze medals, Kaitlyn Farrington won gold in 2014 and two other non-Americans claimed the top prize in 1998 and 2010.

With experience under her belt, Teter will try to be the first with two gold medals in halfpipe.

She is in tune with her body and still feels like attacking the pipe and going bigger than anybody else.

“I’m still having so much fun,” Teter said. “And judging on the stuff that I’m doing, age hasn’t made it harder.”

Teter didn’t know during her interview exactly what she had to do to qualify for a spot on Team USA. She just wants to do well in each of the four qualifiers.

She’s confident in ultimately qualifying for a spot. And in PyeongChang, she feels she can be highly-competitive.

“I know if I land the runs I’m doing, that I’m working on, and landing the 1080, I could be one or two,” Teter said. “But that’s the hard part, doing it all in one run.”

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