ANN BATTELLE, 33 (she turns 34 on January 18)
Steamboat Springs, Colorado
21 top-three World Cup finishes; two-time overall World Cup champion; six-time U.S. champion; winner of the 1999 World Mogul Championships; winner of gold and silver medals at the 2000 Goodwill Games; veteran of three Winter Olympic Games.
"I like to do a lot of hiking and biking and cooking and baking. I read and play with my kitty cats. I hang out with my husband. I drink wine. I'm boring, man."
In another life:
"I would have gotten my M.B.A. by now. I would be working at some corporate job from eight to seven every day and being miserable. That's what all my buddies from college at Middlebury did. Now they're all quitting. Granted, they're probably better off financially than I am right now, but I am a better skier than they are!"
"I like the feeling of not feeling like I have to train. The other eleven months of the year I have training hanging over my head every day when I wake up."
In September of 2000, Battelle crashed on the final day of preseason training at Mt. Hood, dislocating her shoulder, tearing ligaments in the joint, and breaking her shoulder socket.
Less is more:
"My biggest challenge right now is that my style of training and competing has always been very physical, but as I've grown older I've gotten a few nagging injuries. As a result I have to take it easier. That has been extremely difficult for me. I get prepared and confident by training hard and now I can't do that. It's hard to believe that less is more, but I have to have the confidence that this is the way I'm going to be able to make it through the season."
On sticking with it for so long:
"I love to ski and I love to challenge myself to get better. Competing against the best skiers in the world and trying to ski better than they are is such a challenge. When you win you know that that day you are the best mogul skier in the world and that's a great feeling."
Toughest thing about being an Olympian:
"People expect your life to be the best ever. But I'm no more special or different than anybody else. This just happens to be the 'job' that I chose, and I go through the same ups and downs that anyone else does in a regular job."
How mogul skiing has changed:
"It used to be more of a 'yahoo' party sport. As time has gone by, the athletes and coaches have been so much more into it. You push yourself and push yourself and you don't really know how much faster you can ski."
Norway's Kari Traa is right in there, but otherwise Battelle says her biggest competition comes from her teammates. "Our team has an unbelievable amount of depth and people are skiing so well. That's tough in an Olympic year because we need to support each other but we also need to beat each other to go to the Olympics. Donna is skiing really well. Hannah Hardaway is a really good skier who is finally healthy. Shannon Bahrke has done very well the last two years. Jillian Vogtli and Justine Van Houte are coming back from knee surgeries, but they're good skiers, too. It's going to be a tough season for sure."
The winning edge:
"The seasons I've done well you just build on competition after competition. You get more confidence as the season goes on. You get to the point where you feel 'No one can beat me.' That's where I'd like to be headed -- and that's where I am headed."
"I ski on eight. I'm smooooooth."
Being in the zone:
"There was only one time in my whole competition career when I felt like I was in the zone. It was right before the first World Cup I ever won. It was the night before. I went for a walk. It was in Sweden. I walked down this track that happened to go beneath the mogul course. I just remember getting this total calm about me. The next morning was almost like an out-of-body experience. I don't remember most of the day. I went through all the motions I was supposed to go through and I skied well but it was a totally different feeling than I'd ever had before. I've tried to figure out what it was and how I got there, but so far I haven't been able to figure that out."
"The more confidence I have, the more I can say I'm in the zone. It's a bit lesser of a zone but I'm still so focused that nothing really matters. It's just me and the hill."
"My favorite trick is a daffy twister spread. It's the most fun trick that I do. I can go a lot higher off the jump doing a daffy, and it's a lot easier to land out of a spread. I'm trying really, really hard to have helicopters be my favorite jump but it's difficult. I've probably done a thousand of them and they're still scary."
"You want the crowd cheering, but I hate it when I hear my name. I don't want it to be 'Go Ann,' I just want it to be cheering. I don't want to have the whole weight of the crowd on me. I can get pretty freaked out when people are cheering for me specifically."
Skiing for fun:
"I put on fat skis and go fast. Or I go snowboarding. Pretty soon I'm just going to snowboard. I'd love to be able to go into the pipe and go shooting out and stuff, but I can barely do that on my skis, so I have a ways to go. I like the fact that I stand on top of a blue run on my snowboard and think 'Oh my god, this is so steep. I don't know if I can make it down this.' I think that is so cool."
People would be surprised to know...
"I'm just as happy to sit on the couch with my cats in my lap as I am to be traveling around the world conquering mogul courses."