The 2014 Winter Olympics are on, and we are really stoked about one of this year’s sports: freeskiing (as you can probably tell from our interview with freeskier Torin Yater-Wallace). Today, we represent the ladies! We have an interview with 25-year-old female Canadian freeskier (and two-time X Games Gold Medalist) Roz Groenwoud. She talks about her training, balancing skiing and school, and the reason why she always wears red lipstick when she competes. (It’s not because it matches the logo of Target, her education sponsor). Check it out!
Q: How do you balance schoolwork and training?
Roz: This last pre-Olympic season and the upcoming Olympic season are going to be the least school I’ve done ever, since my current focus is on skiing! I go to a university in Squamish, B.C. which runs on a block program (which means you take one course at a time for three and half weeks, and they’re really intense) but that means I can fit the courses into my schedule. The traditional semester schedule doesn’t work for skiing because you take all the finals in December, and December is the most important month for training.
Q: What sacrifices have you made to be an elite athlete?
Roz: I’ve been spending less time with my family, especially with my brother. I started traveling when I was about 16 and my brother is 4 years younger, so I’ve missed big chunks of his teenage years. For me that was the biggest sacrifice: missing my family and home time.
Q: Does being physics major make you appreciate your sport more?
Roz: I don’t know if it makes me appreciate my sport more. I think that being a student makes me a better athlete and being an athlete makes me a better student.
Q: How did you get into Freeskiing?
Roz: I learned to ski when I was 3 because my dad wanted our family to spend time together on the weekends skiing. When I was 8, we moved to Quito, Ecuador and lived there for four years, so I didn’t ski at all. When I was there I watched the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics and saw the mogul skiing and I thought, “Yeah that’s what I want to do!” I moved back to Canada and my parents enrolled me in a recreational freestyle program when I was 13. I hadn’t skied for four years and I had to relearn how to ski after going through a pretty serious growth spurt, so it was pretty frustrating, but I stuck with it.
Q: What’s the most embarrassing thing that’s happened to you during competition?
Roz: My worst crash last year wasn’t actually from falling in the air but going across the flat bottom, which is a part nobody falls on! I was just lying in the middle of the pipe thinking, “How did this just happen?” It was just a terrible feeling, especially because I knew everyone was watching me.
Q: Do you have any pre-run rituals?
Roz: Yes! I always wear purple underwear, purple hair elastics, and purple bows in my hair—and red lipstick. For me, the red lipstick is a symbol that femininity and strength are not mutually exclusive. The ski industry is super male-dominated, and when girls get into it, I think there’s a lot of pressure to fit in, but I like the idea that you can be a girl and a good athlete. You don’t have to give up one to get the other. And I always wear a Canadian leaf bandana. Some Canadian pride!
Roz is slated to compete in the Ladies’ Ski Halfpipe competition on February 20. Will you be watching and cheering her on?
–En-Szu, STACKS Staffer
Photo credits: Target/Chip Kalback