Q-and-A with Travis Ganong | Local Olympian reflects on first World Cup win
The Sun caught up with Squaw Valley skier Travis Ganong after his first career World Cup win in the Santa Caterina, Italy, downhill this past Saturday.
Ganong, who recently bought a house in Lake Forest, is spending the holidays in Europe traveling with his girlfriend, Canadian World Cup racer Marie-Michele Gagnon.
But when the season ends, there’s no place he’d rather be than his Tahoe home.
Check out what he had to say.
Q: Your first World Cup win. It’s kind of a big deal. What do you think you’ll remember the most about the moment 10 or 20 years from now?
A: “Waiting from when I started at 16 to the end of the race seemed like it took forever. The race wasn’t over yet and I knew that anything could happen — that was the most intense hour of my life. I think I’ll remember sitting in the winner box watching racer after racer come down and feeling intense adrenaline, a little queasy in my stomach, and trying to hold back a huge smile every time a racer came down and I was still sitting on top of the podium. The feeling is hard to describe until you experience it.”
Q: You’re off to a hot start — third place in the downhill standings. What did you do in the offseason to come in to this season so prepared?
A: “I actually had one of the worst prep periods in a long time this summer — we just didn’t luck out with the weather and the training conditions for training downhill and super G in New Zealand and Chile. I definitely did not have the same milage as normal. And then I had a little injury in Copper just before the season started so I was a little worried. I think I lowered my expectations from that, and maybe that was a good thing because I wasn’t focused on results but on the process. Asides from the tough summer skiing conditions, I did move back to Tahoe this summer with my girlfriend for training in the gym and on the mountains and trails. I think I am in better shape physically than ever before.”
Q: You’re now an Olympian and one of the most consistent downhillers on the U.S. team. What has that done for your confidence, and would you say your confidence is at an all-time high in your career?
A: “Confidence is huge in any sport, and once you get the ball rolling the momentum is hard to stop. I have put in a lot of hard work over the years, and now the fun part is starting. Like anything you have to be patient and work hard and put in the time and then the results will come. My confidence is for sure high, but I know that there is a lot more work to do and a lot more to come in my career.”
Q: Now that you have experienced success at the highest level, what do you attribute most for your accomplishments? Is it simply the result of hard work, or are there other factors involved?
A: “Like I said before, these results didn’t come overnight. It’s the culmination of years and years of hard work, and traveling all over the world training and competing. During all those years I leaned a lot and gained so much valuable experience and now everything is coming together and I am able to compete and win at the highest level. There were so many coaches along the way that had a huge impact on my career, as well as my fellow teammates, my community and, more than anything, my parents and family. I have a great support system.”
Q: Do you have any specific goals for this season?
A: “No specific goals. I just want to continue skiing well and stay healthy and hopefully get in as many powder days as possibly in the spring in Tahoe when I get home.”
Q: You get to ski some incredible venues around the world, but do you ever find yourself missing Tahoe?
A: “Ha ha, great lead-in from my last answer. Yeah, I really miss Tahoe. There are a lot of other places around the world that are amazing, but nothing compares to what we have back home. Other places have a lake, or have cool mountains, or have great communities, but nowhere have I found all of those attributes in one place other than Tahoe.”
Q: With the downhill series on a break until Jan. 16, do you have plans to return to Tahoe for the holidays?
A: “I am actually going to stay in Europe and travel around with my girlfriend Marie-Michele Gagnon while she competes on the World Cup tour for Canada. The traveling is really tough on the body and so I try to limit my time in airplanes.”
Q: What are some of the things you like to do when you get a chance to return home for a visit?
A: “We just bought a house in Lake Forest, so when I am home I have to, first thing, walk down to Lake Forest Beach or Skylandia. I need to go touch the water and reconnect with the lake and the mountain and the forest. It’s just nice to walk around the neighborhood and feel the grounding affect of the familiarity. And the smell of the trees and fresh mountain air. I love it. After that I feel reset and grounded and ready for the next trip. Sometime I only have a few hours at home between trips, but it is always worth it.”
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