The road to Sochi | Q-and-A with Olympian Travis Ganong
Squaw Valley skier Travis Ganong is trying his best to enjoy his first Olympic season. But like he and his ski-racing cohorts, it’s flying by.
At 25, Ganong has established himself as one of the top speed-event racers on a talented U.S. Ski Team. He won a national title at his home mountain this past spring, and he hasn’t eased up on the throttle since, carrying that momentum into his biggest season to date.
With every quality result he gains confidence. With every passing day he races closer to his childhood dream.
Check out what he had to say.
Q: Big season. How have you been enjoying it so far?
A: “It’s been a great season so far! It has gone by so fast. The first World Cup started up in Lake Louise back on thanksgiving weekend and it’s been a blur of trains, planes, cars and different ski areas and hotels ever since. I’ve been on the road for a few months.”
Q: You’ve had some solid results. What does that do for your confidence moving toward your first Winter Olympics?
A: “Yeah it’s nice to have some good results this season building up to the Olympics. I haven’t gone to the Olympics yet and it’s definitely a big life goal for me to qualify and represent the U.S. in Russia.”
Q: Is there anyone, or anything, that you credit for how far you’ve come as a ski racer?
A: “My parents picked an amazing place to call home and I was super lucky to grow up in a skiing family. Tahoe taught me to love the mountains and mountain culture, and that has shaped my life into what it is today. I owe everything to my parents for giving me the gift of skiing. It’s amazing all the doors that have opened up from there, and all the places I’ve traveled and now getting a chance to represent my country at the highest level at the Olympics. Thanks Mom and Dad! And thanks to Lake Tahoe for being such a rad place to grow up.”
Q: Obviously there’s a lot of pressure with it being an Olympic year. Do you feel like that pressure helps or inhibits your skiing?
A: “I’m not sure. I definitely think about the Olympics now and again and it’s always looming down the road, but to be honest, when I have pushed out of the starting gate so far this winter I have been super relaxed and skied within myself and fast.”
Q: What’s the vibe like on the World Cup tour? Is it more intense or different than a non-Olympic year?
A: “It’s for sure more intense on tour right now. Every country has only a few spots to fill at the Olympics and a lot of fast guys vying for those spots. The races in Kitzbuehel are the last chances for anyone to qualify and so the vibe is super intense. The best countries have 10 guys who could be contenders at the Olympics and at the end of the day only four will be there racing.”
Q: Have you ever skied the Sochi downhill or super G courses? What did you think of them?
A: “I raced the World Cup downhill test event two years ago in Sochi. The downhill is an amazing track and I can’t wait to get back there. I don’t think anyone has ever raced super G there, so that will be interesting.”
Q: Do you have any favorite Olympic memories from your childhood?
A: “The first one that comes to mind is watching Herman Maier fly off a jump on Nagano and cartwheel through like five layers of b-net and into the bushes and trees off the course. That was one of the most amazing crashes of all time. He got back up from that crash and medaled in the super G later on in the games.”
Q: Did you ever dream about competing in the Olympics yourself while growing up? And if so, did you think the dream was realistic?
A: “I think every kid growing up always dreams of going to the Olympics. As far as it being realistic, kids always tend to dream big, and everything great always starts from a dream or an idea, and for me that dream is coming true, so I guess it was realistic. You have to dream big.”
Q: Are any of your family and friends going to make the trip to Sochi?
A: “Yeah my parents and sisters are making the long trip over to support me at the Games. Also my girlfriend Marie-Michele Gagnon is qualified for the games and is a medal threat in alpine skiing for Canada, so her family will also be there. I think my family and hers will both be waving an American and a Canadian flag.”