2010 Olympics: Elena Hight Q&A on Winter Games
NORTHSTAR-AT-TAHOE – Elena Hight’s nerves didn’t kick in until people starting asking about them.”I keep getting asked if I’m getting nervous, and now I’m getting nervous,” the Olympic-bound South Lake Tahoe snowboarder said with a laugh during a media day Tuesday at Northstar, her home resort. It wasn’t evident on this day, as Hight – sporting a purple Monster beanie, her long blond hair spilling out onto her shoulders – spoke with the poise of a veteran about the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, which begin Friday. At age 20, Hight already is an Olympic veteran of sorts, having competed in her first Olympics at age 16, when she placed sixth in Turin, Italy. Now four years later, Hight has rebounded from a slow start to her season to earn a berth on the U.S. Olympic halfpipe team with a number of quality finishes in the U.S. Snowboarding Grand Prix series.She left Wednesday for Vancouver, where she’ll compete as a member of the same four-person U.S. women’s halfpipe team that went to the last Winter Games. Hight and company are scheduled to compete in the women’s halfpipe events Thursday, Feb. 18.Check out what Hight had to say before her departure:SS: What will be your role during Opening Ceremony?Hight: “I’ll just be walking with Team U.S.A. When I went in 2006 that was the highlight of my trip, so I’m very much looking forward to that.”SS: What’s so cool about it (Opening Ceremony)?Hight: “There is just so much energy around the Opening Ceremonies. I mean, it really is the kick-off to everything … and especially snowboarding being such an individual sport, it’s cool to be a part of a team like that and realize that while you’re there for yourself, you’re also there for your country, and to support all the other athletes there as well.”SS: There’s some stiff competition in the women’s field, with Kelly Clark, Gretchen Bleiler, Hannah Teter and Torah Bright. What do you think your chances are of beating those girls and landing on the podium?Hight: “Getting on the podium is the goal, for sure. I think just making the team in the U.S. is a feat in itself. We definitely have the largest women’s field out of any country, so to be able to make the team is really good preparation for the Olympics. There’s some really good competition from other countries, like Tora Bright and some other girls. But I think that as far as the women’s teams, the U.S. is really dominating, so I think it will be good.”SS: At the (U.S. Snowboarding) Grand Prix at Mammoth (on Jan. 9) you landed back-to-back 900s to finish runner-up. Do you think you’re going to have to do the same to get on the podium in Vancouver?Hight: “Definitely. I’ve been working on back-to-back 9s all season. And I had a little bit of a slow start to the season, but it’s all been coming together for me and I’ve been training really hard, and so hopefully it will all work out. That is going to be my go-to in Vancouver.”SS: Any new tricks up your sleeve?Hight: “Um, not so much. I’ve just been working on cleaning that up and being consistent and really doing that as well as I can and doing my best at it.”SS: This close to the Olympics, how do you adjust your halfpipe training? Do you scale it back so you don’t get injured, or do you keep training hard?Hight: “The U.S. Team stayed in Aspen to train for a week, and I just got back from there. But really, now is the time to not push yourself over the edge, but definitely push yourself to get everything as dialed as possible and be confident in your riding going into the Olympics, because confidence is a big factor in competing.”SS: With some of the injuries to big-name riders this year, does that affect you at all, personally, as far your confidence and what you’re willing to attempt?Hight: “Injuries are a part of our sport. They’re part of action sports, period. We’re all out there pushing ourselves as hard as we can and learning new tricks, and there are risks involved. Injuries unfortunately are a part of it. I think staying healthy and strong in the offseason helps to not get injured.”SS: Do you get butterflies before competing?Hight: “I get butterflies no matter what. I’ve competed in so many snowboard events, and I still get nervous, no matter what. But it’s all about taking a deep breath and remembering to have fun at the top of the halfpipe.”SS: You and Hannah (Teter from Meyers), do you feel any sense of pride in representing Lake Tahoe?Hight: “Definitely. Lake Tahoe has got a crew going to the Olympics – snowboarders and skiers. So it’s definitely cool to be a part of that. We definitely have Lake Tahoe pride.”SS: You gonna have a good contingent of fans there?Hight: “Yeah, I’ve got a group of like 20 people coming up to root me on. And that’s really cool to have that family support up there.”
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