Kaylin Richardson in Sochi

Two-time Olympian, former US Ski Team member, and Warren Miller athlete Kaylin Richardson was in Sochi for the 2014 Olympics, but this time, she was putting her athletic and race background to a different use: as Olympic correspondent for The Weather Channel.

Two-time Olympian, five-event ski racer, and former US Ski Team member Kaylin Richardson has been in Sochi for the 2014 Olympics, but this time, she is putting her athletic and race background to a different use: as Olympic correspondent for The Weather Channel.

Although she now prefers to chase powder around the globe and film big mountain freeskiing segments with Warren Miller Entertainment, a conversation at last year’s Sundance Film Festival in Park City, where Richardson found herself explaining to some visitors just how much the weather affects ski racing was the catalyst that brought her to Sochi. The visitors happened to be affiliated with The Weather Channel, and they were looking for an expert on ski racing with a good grasp of the weather for their Olympic coverage.

Kaylin Richardson interviewing Julia Mancuso in Sochi for The Weather Channel

We caught up with Richardson, who is also ambassador of skiing at the Canyons in Utah and an I AM PRO SNOW ambassador (working to bring awareness to climate change), to find out how Sochi has been treating her, why ski racing was great training for speaking on live television, and how it feels to be present but not participating in the first Olympic Games since she stopped racing.

Sochi has been a blast! Every Olympic Games has its own nuances, and this one is so different just because it’s in Russia! But it is very contained, and very organized. I’ve never felt unsafe once. And the Russians are so excited – they are really proud for their country in hosting these Games.

People keep asking me if it is hard to watch others compete. When I retired in 2010 I was really satisfied with my ski career. But I had made it a goal to come back and be involved in Sochi in some capacity. I think the race courses here in Sochi look really fun – especially the DH. But now, I’d really rather go ski powder in Alaska or Japan!

Kaylin Richardson in Norway for Ticket to Ride

I was so nervous watching Ted [Ligety] in the GS. It was his race to lose, with such a huge lead, and while the visibility was good and there was no precipitation, the snow was really soft. There was so much pressure. I’m so proud he won!

Geeking out on the weather is something I really love, so it is really nice to be involved with The Weather Channel. I ended up working with them here thanks to a conversation I had last year, where I was explaining how much the weather affects athletes who compete outside in the elements, and all the adjustments and compensation that athletes have to make depending on the weather and snow conditions. 

Being next to the Black Sea here in Sochi, you get so much fluctuation in the weather. There are palm trees by the coast, and then just up in the mountains, it is a winter wonderland.

Kaylin Richardson in Norway for Ticket to Ride

Race events happen on days with great conditions and not so great conditions. This is all part of the mental preparation and execution. But you have to make the best of it – you have to make your run when it is your turn.

Ski racing really helped me for live television. I’ve been working with pros like Al Roker, but live TV is still hard! I love being able to take the things I learned in ski  racing and apply them to speaking on live TV. The nerves are the biggest thing – in ski racing and in live television. It’s hard! Like a ski run, when you are in the start gate, you just have to know you’ve prepared. You have ten seconds to go, and you have to perform – you can’t take it back when it happens. On live TV, it is the same thing. If you make a mistake, you learn from it and you have to move on.

I know the ski team hasn’t performed as well as expected of them overall, but I also know the prep and the effort it takes to even make it to the Olympics. I am just so psyched for all of them.