Summer has been good to Travis Ganong.
The Squaw Valley skier entered his offseason with a winner’s swagger after claiming the super G title at the U.S. Alpine Championships this past spring — a memorable feat performed in front of his family and friends on the slopes of his home mountain.
Confidence from that win has only grown as Ganong, a 25-year-old speed-event specialist, works tirelessly toward his childhood dream of skiing for his country in the Olympic Games. Despite the demanding work and dedication required, he’s made a point to enjoy every moment of the ride.
The Sierra Sun caught up with Ganong on Wednesday for an email Q-and-A from his U.S. Ski Team training camp in Chile. Check out what he had to say:
Q: What have you been up to this summer? And have you been able to spend much time in Tahoe?
A: We have had an incredibly hard summer of conditioning (dryland training). We have a new physical trainer from Austria, and are really ramping things up going into this Olympic year. That means that I have spent a lot of time out at the Center Of Excellence in Park City, Utah (the ski team gym). I also spend a lot of time up in Canmore/Banff, Alberta, living and training with my girlfriend, Marie-Michele Gagnon, who is a member of the Canadian team. I was able to spend the last two weeks of July out in Tahoe. Being away from the lake makes me realize how amazing our home is and when I was home I did as many things as possible! Hiking, mountain biking, rafting, sailing, yoga, Wanderlusting, Truckee Thursdays, Bluesdays at Squaw, paddleboarding, and enjoying every second of Tahoe time! I cant wait to be home for another month or so before the season kicks off in Colorado in November.
Q: I know the U.S. Ski Team travels to the Southern Hemisphere for summer training. What are those resorts like down there compared to, say, a Squaw Valley?
A: I am actually down in Chile as I type this. We arrived in La Parva five days ago and have been enjoying some great skiing. It’s always a bonus for skiers from the Northern Hemisphere to come down here for a few weeks of winter. I’ve skied all over the place down in the Southern Hemisphere. Skiing in Chile is all above tree line, so during a storm you can get scary vertigo, but when it clears the sun pops out and you can be treated to some amazing skiing. The resorts where I am, out of Santiago, are at a similar latitude to say Los Angeles in the Northern Hemisphere, so after storms it tends to warm up quickly. New Zealand is also a great place to go and ski. I like the skiing in Chile a lot better, but New Zealand is an amazing country and worth checking out during their winter. It’s hard to compare most resorts to Squaw, but this time of year the skiing is a whole lot better here in Chile than back home!
Q: How are you feeling health-wise heading into this Olympic year?
A: Ski racing is a dangerous sport and as a downhiller, injuries are always part of the game. I have had a few nagging injuries over the last few seasons, but after this summer of conditioning and now getting back on snow the last few days I feel better that I have felt in a long time. I kind of got used to skiing with pain, and so now to ski pain free is allowing me to start pushing harder and challenging myself on the hill. It’s a great feeling, especially going into an Olympic year.
Q: Speaking of which, Sochi will be your first Olympic experience. Are there any nerves associated with that?
A: They won’t name the Olympic team until just before the Games, but my sights are definitely set on the Games. Going to the Olympics and representing the United States has always been a dream of mine since I first started skiing. Now that dream is becoming a reality, and I’m just going with it. I’m trying not to let the nerves surface, and just keep doing what I love to do (ski), and reminding myself every day to just enjoy every moment, not take things too seriously and take care of the little things. If I do all of that, nerves won’t be an issue and come February I’ll be where I want to be.
Q: Now that you have a few seasons under your belt, what are your expectations or goals entering the 2014 season?
A: I want to start competing for the podium in every World Cup downhill. I have been around all the best racers in the world and have shown some speed and consistency with the best, and so now I really want to ramp it up to the next gear, take some more chances, and see what happens. I also want to make the Olympic team and defend my super G U.S. Nationals tittle back home at Squaw Valley in the spring.
Q: You obviously performed well at the U.S. Alpine Championships at Squaw this past spring. What did those results do for your confidence?
A: Squaw is my mountain, and Tahoe is my home, so going into Nationals I was more motivated than most to preform well for the hometown crowd, supporters, family and friends. Winning at home had to be one of the more special moments I’ve had on skis, and really helped set the tone for my summer conditioning and leading into next year and the Olympics. My confidence after that day was high. I can’t wait to come home next year after another long season on the World Cup tour and finish it back home at Squaw!
Q: Bold prediction: How many medals will the U.S. Alpine Ski Team earn in Sochi?
A: We had eight alpine skiing medals in Vancouver, which was a huge amount. Our team is really building momentum and skiing strong and confidently going into next year, so I’ll boldly say one more than Vancouver! Nine medals. Why not?!