Thousands of athletes from all over the world are competing to call themselves Olympic champions. Many undergo grueling training for four years just to get a shot at the gold. 1964 Slalom Olympic Gold Medalist Pepi Stiegler says, "It was always skiing, skiing, and more skiing."
It may only take minutes from top to bottom, but many Olympic athletes have been training their entire life just for a shot at the gold. 1994 Downhill Olympic Gold Medalist Tommy Moe says, "When you're top twenty in the world that's all you pretty much do is live, eat, and breathe ski racing."
Some even traveling all over the world to find any type of snow to dip their skis in. "You go to South America in the summer time and New Zealand and then you come back to Colorado in November and practice there and then the race season starts in December. Once the race season starts you're on the tour for four months and basically living out of a suitcase," Moe said.
All the hard work can pay off, athletes say being able to call yourself an Olympic champion can have a dramatic effect on your life. "Once you have an Olympic medal your life status comes up, your status as a person comes up and your life changes,” Stiegler said.
However, getting there is grueling. "The hardest part is making the team, but again once you're there you can't really focus on 'oh I'm going to win a medal.' I went there and thought I was going to win a medal the first time and I got 28th place," Moe said.
Once you do get to the Olympics it’s easy to get caught up in the moment, but you have to remember what got you there in the first place. "Those skiers that went to Sochi you see are good, all of them, most of them and what they need is a lot of self-confidence to play out their capability," Stiegler said, while Moe agrees. "If you just really focus on skiing your best and giving it your best effort, then that's usually when you'll do well."
Although, a little luck never hurts. "There could be something that didn't work right whatever it was. So there's a little bit of luck coming along with your ability level," Stiegler said.