EVERY 4 YEARS. OR ONCE IN A LIFETIME.
As the Olympics came to a close and all our athletes arrived home we reached out to Alex Hall, Jaelin Kauf, and River Radamus to hear about their experiences at this year's games.
Alex was heading into the Olympics flying high with arguably one of his best seasons ever. He started off the season with Silver at Steamboat 2021 Visa Big Air, then Gold at Dew Tour Streetstyle and Silver at Dew Tour Slopestyle, Gold at the US Grand Prix at Mammoth Mountain, and closed it out with Gold at X games big air and Bronze at X games slopestyle. Alex was also voted NEWSCHOOLERS Skier of the Year.
Alex went into these olympics with a slightly different mentality than in 2018. He wanted to take a calmer and more centered approach, telling us “I just told myself to have way more fun and just enjoy my time there. It’s just skiing in the end”. This mindset paid off as Alex had arguably one of his best slopestyle runs of his career, grabbing gold in a very competitive field. “It is definitely the best slope run I have ever done. Which is really dope that it happened to be at the Olympics.” Alex loved the slopestyle course and how unique and creative it was, and he brought his own creativity to match with tricks that were totally new to the competition. “It’s for sure cool to have an Olympic medal for something that I am really proud of. I skied exactly for the reason that I always do.” When we asked him what that reason was he said, “keep it true to myself and have fun with the skiing. Be creative.”
Alex really loved being able to soak up the entire Olympics experience, especially this year. “I think the Olympics were really dope because we got to see so many different athletes from different sports. Especially in the Beijing village where we were hanging with a lot of the ice sports people. Also, there is a whole lot of country pride which is dope. Compared to 2018 it was really refreshing. I feel like the people I hung out with a lot were really dope and I just overall took it all in more.” Alex and the rest of the freeski team, who are all close friends, were able to watch many events and may have even found a new sport to try - short track speed skating! “My favorite to watch was definitely the short track speed skating because there was a bunch of carnage and slams. Also, it’s a real nail biter.” But the one thing that Alex said he would never forget was standing atop the podium hearing the national anthem.
Jaelin returned to the Olympics this year feeling a bit less pressure than in 2018, and said she enjoyed the experience of competing a lot more this time. “I realized after the last Olympics that everyone wants to root for me… in the end, all these people are just so stoked to be able to watch me and support me and hopefully see me do my best out there.” She told us that really understanding the amount of support she had gave her a lot of comfort while competing.
That mindset must have worked, because Jaelin came home with a silver medal in women’s moguls. She recounted the moment she realized she was going to get a medal: “it was one of the coolest feelings I have ever experienced. [My teammates] ran over and hugged me immediately and that was a very special moment. Then later at the medal ceremony was when I actually got a lot of the emotions of what I’d accomplished and what that meant - it really started to hit me”. When we asked her what the feeling is like, she said, “I mean, this is going to sound extremely cheesy and I don’t really know how to say it, but the medals are heavy and you can feel the weight of it. And it’s such a big thing for our sport, and I know that this is going to have a huge impact on kids and girls growing up in the sport”. Jaelin also mentioned the media tour and how seeing her mom was the “cherry on top” of an incredibly special experience.
Next on the schedule for Jaelin? World Cup in Italy, competing in France, and US Nationals!
River was enamored with his time in Beijing and first time participating in the Olympics. “I was impressed. The conditions were incredible, the hill was amazing, Like we were really well put up, so it was awesome.” While River was focused on doing his best at the Olympics, the atmosphere at the Athletes Village was something that really stood out to him. “The thing that I’ll remember most is the experiences around all the other Olympic athletes from all the different sports. There was a really cool energy in the village getting to meet all the other elite athletes that are the best of the best at what they do and seeing them in that context was cool.”
River took a different approach to the Games than what he had been doing at previous competitions to improve his place in the standings. He tried to work backwards a bit more and focus less on results and more about the journey to becoming the best GS competitor he could be. He told us in our interview, “last year, and then especially through this past summer and into the season, I tried to eliminate those ideas of expectations from my mind and just focus on the work, focus on the preparation, on the day-to-day stuff, and realized that if I do all that stuff right, and take pride in that stuff, the results will come in the end.”
Ultimately, River finished 4th in the Men’s Giant Slalom, which was a huge achievement for the first-time Olympian. “Where I was, entering the Olympics, I was in a good position, because I didn't have a ton of expectations on me. There weren't people saying that I was expected to medal or be up there with the best guys, so I tried to go in with an underdog mentality, and this is my opportunity to prove people wrong.” While the Olympic experience was truly remarkable for River in terms of his interactions with other athletes, he says his Fourth place finish is great motivation for the next Games. “I'd be lying if I said being 4th, just coming up short on the podium isn't going to stick with me forever as well, ya know? I watched the medal ceremony for the GS and that image is going to be in my brain forever. I think that, ultimately, is bulletin board material that I'm going to utilize for the gym time in the summer when I don't want to do an extra rep…coming up short is going to fuel me forever”.