What's your strategy to win the gold?
I just need to get my landings down and go out there and do the two jumps I know I can do.
What jumps are those?
A double-full-full and a full-double-full.
So a double-full-full is a double back flip and in the first flip, I do a 720 and in the second flip, it's a 360. So there's three twists and two flips. And the other jump I do, the full-double-full, is the reverse of that: the first one is a 360 and then the 720.
Do you get hurt a lot?
I've definitely had some bad luck. I think I've had the most injuries on my team thus far, but I'm done with that now. I've had two knee surgeries—one on each knee—and I've torn the ACL in one knee, and then the PCL and a MCL on the other knee. And I've had a body fracture on my scapula—fractured it all the way across.
Ouch. How did you get started ski jumping?
I was a gymnast and was recruited to an aerials camp when I was 15. They thought I had some talent and asked me to continue training. And then I actually made the U.S ski team when I was 17—it was pretty quick. So I was learning skiing just as much as I was learning jumping.
OK, so I want to ski off a jump and do flips in the air like you. Give me a quick lesson.
Well, it's all mental. Once you get it down, it's pretty easy, but to do it over and over is the difficult part. You create weird habits when you're doing the same thing for a week, like doing just one little thing different and when you try to go back and fix that, it can be pretty difficult. Oh, and if you were really trying to do a flip, I would tell you to watch your ski tips coming off the jump.
Do you have any superstitions when you're competing?
Lately I don't want to change my equipment and the things I wear. Like, my gloves are becoming pretty ratty because I've had them for three years now but I don't want to start wearing new ones.
What does your Olympics uniform look like?
It's by Under Armour, the ski team's sponsor. It's red, white and blue—very snazzy. We're not supposed to talk about it too much but I would say it's Evel Knievel style.
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Portrait by Scott Sine; action photo by Eric Schramm