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How a 24-year-old Olympic skier mentally preps for Sochi

24-year-old US Olympic Freeskiing competitor Brita Sigourney (Photo: K2 Skis)
Air apparent: 24-year-old U.S. Olympic Freeskiing Halfpipe competitor Brita Sigourney (Photo: K2 Skis)


While most 20-somethings fete their birthdays over cocktails expensed by friends, Brita Sigourney got a gift of a different kind.

On January 17, the same day that Sigourney turned 24, she also became the second American woman to secure a place on the first-ever, headed-to-Sochi, U.S. Olympic Freeskiing Halfpipe team. Which is what exactly?

Sigourney uses breathing exercises used in yoga to prepare before a race. (Photo: Oakley)
Sigourney uses breathing exercises and yoga to keep her head clear while she’s in the air. (Photo: Oakley)

“It’s skiing in a U-shaped ditch that’s carved out of the mountain,” Sigourney patiently explains. “Skiers go up and down each wall, doing tricks in the air and landing back in the pipe. It’s just like snowboarding halfpipe.”

Now Sigourney’s facing the high-stakes mental pressure of competing, in addition to performing at an Olympic level. And knowing we were going to ask, she offered up how much she uses yoga and other strategies for keeping her cool on the frozen mountain.

“I’ve just been trying to stay calm and focused by going to yoga and visualizing my run when I have down time,” she says—practices that she plans to extend during the competition.

“When I’m at the top of the pipe I usually work on my breathing and make sure I’m taking deep breaths,” the Californian says. “I do a lot of visualizing but most of all I just try to have fun.”

Good advice for dealing with stress in pretty much any situation, Olympian or not. —Jamie McKillop

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