“I think in my ‘first round,’ I felt so much pressure. I was really nervous to race, and I felt like I had so much to lose that it was almost crippling,” she says. “This time, coming in as a parent with no one expecting anything of me has been really freeing. That’s been kind of beautiful—to be free, in that sense.”In her early 20s, D’Amato says that running was all-encompassing. Now after workouts, she shifts into mom mode or work mode. She jokes that her kids and clients don’t care whether she nailed it or bonked that day. It’s given her some necessary perspective to a sport that can understandably feel like it’s the be-all and end-all.“Everyone has bad days,” D’Amato says. “I have a lot of bad days. I try to treat workouts like races and I take them really, really seriously. But sometimes you don’t feel it or the weather’s not good, and you just gotta learn and move on. And that’s been easier for me with kids and with the job because I have to shift into another mindset as soon as I leave the track.”As D’Amato’s star has risen, it’s taken the full support of her family to make everything work. Her husband, she says, sacrifices his workout time so she could get hers in. And flexibility is key all around to keep everything running smoothly.One thing that is rigid? What D’Amato calls the “golden hours” that she spends with her children: mornings before school and evenings before bedtime. She prioritizes that time above training and work.“I really protect that time,” she says. “I look at that as ‘don’t mess with me during that time unless it’s a special circumstance.’ I don’t make a habit of eating into that time.”After that top priority, real estate or running filters in next depending on the day, she says. “It takes a village, and I ask for a lot of help with my family and support system.”A Push to the FutureExpectations are high going into the World Championships, both for D’Amato and Team USA in general. On the start line, D’Amato will join fellow Team USA runners Emma Bates and Sara Hall—who finished second and third, respectively, in the 2021 Chicago Marathon—and they’re hoping to keep Team USA’s marathon momentum going. At the Tokyo Olympic Games last summer, Molly Seidel captured the bronze medal, becoming only the third-ever American woman to medal in the Olympic marathon.“Molly absolutely leveled up American distance running. I think it showed other people what’s possible,” D’Amato says. “Going into this World Championship, I think all three of us thought, ‘if Molly can do that, maybe I can do that.’”The makeup of Team USA acknowledges another subtle, but growing trend across the sport: That women can run their best marathons well into their 30s and after becoming moms. At 39, Hall also balances her training with raising four young children, and Eugene will be her first time representing the US at Worlds, too.
It’s so funny, in my career, big things usually happen in June—that’s just the way our schedule is [in track and field]. I love it. There was a Pride event in Flagstaff this weekend, and I just feel like I can really tap into that. The energy, excitement, and the love that Pride brings—every time I’ve gone to a Pride event, I always leave feeling like my heart is so full. And that really helps me on the track as well. I’ve been able to harness that energy of Pride, and we also opened Pride 5K registration on Friday too, so it’s even one more thing to add to the excitement. It’s definitely my favorite month of the year.You were sponsored by Adidas coming out of college in 2018 until earlier this year. Knowing that athletes depend on sponsorship as a way to have a more reliable income and to help with the cost of training and events, it’s huge to nail that kind of partnership so early in your professional career. How long did you run unsponsored, and what were some of the challenges that came with that?It was five full months, basically from January to May. It was really hard to go from being a sponsored athlete for the past three years to unsponsored, but I really leaned in to the fact that I could wear whatever I wanted to wear. This indoor season, I got to wear a trans, nonbinary artist’s work that said “protect trans kids” [on my racing kit].It gave me a lot of perspective [that running is what] I want to do, whether I’m making money or not. I want to be here, showing up as myself, continuing to educate people in the sport. The time unsponsored was challenging, but I gained a lot of perspective from it, for sure.How is your partnership with Lululemon important for building trans visibility in sport?For me, representation is huge. The more I can be seen, the more trans kids out there can see themselves in a sport that maybe they love too. Lululemon using their platform to showcase me as a trans athlete will only help.How do you see the future of representation in sport?The Olympics this past year had the most out athletes ever, and I think that’s just going to continue to happen. I feel like when I was growing up, everything was very white and cis and straight, and now it’s shifting. You just see more and more representation at all levels.What’s it been like for you since coming out as trans a year ago?It’s definitely been a transformative year. There are ups and downs. I feel so seen, and I feel so affirmed when people use my correct pronouns. I just feel freer.I also feel scared at times, and I feel not safe in spaces. It’s been a rollercoaster of self-discovery, and I don’t know if people are educated enough to know what nonbinary means, and so that’s been hard. At the end of the day, I’m so happy to be out and living my true self, but it hasn’t been all rainbows and sunshine.
While there’s a lot that goes into preparing for a world-best competition, Bowe has only recently begun to recognize the importance of recovery. In fact, she considers maintaining a consistent sleep routine key to her success on the track.“As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that recovery is just as important—if not more so—than training,” she says.SELF talked to the elite speed skater, who also served as a team U.S. flag bearer at the Olympics opening ceremony in Beijing, about her routine and the tech she relies upon to log solid sleep.Everything I do after dinner is in preparation for a good night of sleep.I usually eat dinner around 6:00 or 6:30 p.m., and then everything that happens for me after that is about preparing for a good night of sleep. I watch TV, so I am getting some blue light exposure there, but laying on the couch watching TV helps wind me down. As it gets close to 10:00 p.m.,I’ll go upstairs to start my bedtime routine.I like what I like when it comes to bedtime. Take my Eight Sleep mattress: It does heating and cooling, so it finds an optimal temperature for my body through my different phases of sleep: preparing for bedtime, deep sleep, REM sleep, and then waking up. After a period of time, it learns your sleeping routine, and depending on the temperature in your bedroom, your mattress will adjust accordingly.I rely on some products to help me wind down.After a tough day, I’ll get into an epsom salt bath. I put some lavender oil in there. I typically use Dr. Teal’s Epsom Salt in a few different combinations, and especially enjoy the lavender. I’m definitely a bath person—I take a couple baths a week to wind down.I’m an Usana athlete, and the company is based right here in Salt Lake City, so it’s a pretty cool partnership. They have a balm called Calm Response and I put that on my wrist, arms, neck and chest and rub it in. It’s a really relaxing scent.After really hard training days when my nervous system seems really worked up, I’ll use Pure Rest from Usana, which is their melatonin supplement. I also use this spray from Bath & Body Works called Pillow Mist—it’s actually discontinued, but I got it on Amazon. It’s from their sleep line, and it’s made with lavender, cedarwood, and with different essential oils. I’ll spray that all over my bed.Then I’ll make sure my humidifier is going next to me. In addition to that, I have an Air Doctor air purifier.AmazonDr Teal’s Epsom Salt Soaking SolutionAmazonBath and Body Works Aromatherapy Pillow Mist Lavender VanillaI love tracking my sleep quality through wearable tech.When I get into bed, I go through eight to 10 minutes of cadence breathing (a form of rhythmic breathing) through my Polar Vantage V2 watch’s serene setting. With cadence breathing, you spend a certain amount of time inhaling and exhaling with a pause between. The watch vibrates on the inhale, so I feel the vibration on my wrist, which indicates a breath in. When the vibration stops, I breathe out. That repeats for whatever amount of time you set it to. Sometimes I will actually fall asleep before I can get through that.
Olympic skiing events have been mainstays at the modern Winter Olympic games since its inception. Olympic snowboarding, on the other hand, is quite a bit newer. Together, both sports make up some of the most recognizable events—and often boast some of the most recognizable names.Skiing events have been around in the Olympics since the Chamonix Games in France in 1924, and new disciplines have been added over the years. Snowboarding—which is technically considered a discipline of skiing, according to the International Ski Federation—wasn’t added to the Olympic program until 1998, making it one of the newer events.There are several different modalities for skiing and snowboarding, meaning there’s pretty much an event for every type of Winter Olympics fan: Some competitions require stamina and endurance, while others emphasize the power, agility, and strength to execute jumps, flips, and twists.There are quite literally dozens of Olympic skiing events and snowboarding competitions—some of which actually began on February 3, ahead of the opening ceremonies. Here’s everything you need to know so you can follow along at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.How many skiing events are at the Olympics?There are five different skiing disciplines at the Olympics, each featuring several different events. Alpine skiing, which is also known as downhill skiing, is broken up into speed events (downhill and super-G) and technical events (slalom and giant slalom), which are called such due to the turns on the course. Then there’s mixed team parallel slalom, in which teams of two men and two women compete against another four-person team head-to-head in a slalom race.In cross-country skiing, athletes use skis and poles to propel through a mostly-flat course of various distances. For women, the cross-country ski events include sprint, team sprint, 10K individual start, 7.5K + 7.5K skiathlon (a combination of freestyle and classic style skiing), 30K mass start, and 4x5K relay. The skiathlon, for those wondering, is a combination of freestyle and classic style skiing. In freestyle, athletes move their skis in a forward motion, while in freestyle, they use a side-to-side motion for more speed.Another Olympic skiing event is ski jumping, an event in which athletes ski down a takeoff ramp and jump, with the goal of covering as much distance as possible before landing. Points are awarded for jump length and style. For women, there’s individual normal hill and the mixed team event.Then comes Nordic combined—a unique combination of ski jumping and cross-country skiing—which is only contested by the men at the Winter Olympics.Finally, there’s freestyle skiing, which rose in popularity in the 1960s as skiers started to incorporate tricks and jumps into their runs, aided by advances in ski equipment. Freestyle skiing includes aerials (athletes perform acrobatic twists and flips in the air) and mixed team aerials (teams of three skiers perform aerial tricks), moguls (skiers navigate a sloped course covered with mounds of snow called moguls, and are judged on turns, speed, and air), halfpipe (where they perform jumps and turns in a U-shaped course with 22-foot walls), slopestyle (athletes execute tricks on a course with obstacles), big air (skiers perform tricks off a 60-foot ramp), and ski cross (four skiers race down a course amid jumps, banks, and rollers).How do you win at Olympic skiing?How you win in Olympic skiing depends on the ski discipline. In alpine skiing, athletes compete against the clock for the fastest time of the day. In the downhill and super-G, athletes get just one run to record a time. The technical events of giant slalom and slalom consist of two runs, which are added together for the skiers’ overall time. In mixed team parallel slalom, skiers earn points by finishing first on the run, or lose points for missing a gate or falling; the country with the most points wins. In case of a tie, the team with the best aggregate time wins.
With the Winter Olympics rapidly approaching, the question of what is a biathlon is a pretty common one. The answer is simple: It’s a sporting event that combines skiing and shooting. But there’s also a bit more to it than that.At its most basic level, a biathlon includes two events. According to the International Olympic Committee (IOC), it comes from the Greek word meaning “two tests.” Compare that to other sports like the triathlon and the decathlon, which have three events and 10 events, respectively. In current Winter Games competitions, the biathlon refers specifically to cross-country skiing and rifle shooting.If that seems like quite the combination, well, you aren’t wrong. Keep on reading for everything you need to know about the eccentric sports combination that is the biathlon.What is a biathlon?Like we’ve established, biathlon combines two very different sports, cross-country skiing and rifle shooting, into one race. Men and women each compete in five different formats with differing race distances and shooting segments, the latter of which can occur either in the standing or prone position. In the 2022 Winter Olympics, there’s also a mixed-team relay event, totaling 11 biathlon events overall.As the New York Times reports, biathlon requires two quite different skill sets: endurance, to get through the grueling cross-country ski aspect; and precision, to target-shoot with accuracy. Athletes must have solid physiological control to switch between the two sports as quickly as possible. In order to shoot accurately, athletes must stabilize their bodies and breathing after the high-aerobic skiing segments. During the cross-country portions of the race, their heart rates can spike to 180 beats per minute (bpm), but for shooting, their heart rates need to be near 140 bpm.How do you win at biathlon?Biathlon is a timed event where the quickest finish means victory. In biathlon, athletes race on cross-country skis around a closed course while carrying a rifle slung on their backs. For women, there are five separate events each at different distances including a 7.5K sprint, 10K pursuit, 15K individual, 12.5K mass start, and 24K relay. During the cross-country race, the athletes stop at designated areas to shoot at targets, while either standing or lying on their stomach. The number of shooting areas varies depending on the distance (for instance, in the 7.5K sprint, athletes only stop to shoot twice, but in the 15K, there are a total of four shooting segments).Unlike a typical race, though, it’s not all about being fast: Accuracy matters as well. Athletes only have a set number of bullets depending on the event and they are penalized for missing targets with either a penalty lap around a 150-meter loop, or a one-minute penalty added to their total time. The person with the quickest time wins.What’s the difference between winter biathlon and summer biathlon?According to Team USA, summer biathlon combines rifle marksmanship with running or roller skating. Summer biathlon is not currently included in the Olympics, but there are world and national championship events in that discipline.What is biathlon in the Paralympics?Biathlon is one of the six sports that will be held at the 2022 Paralympic Games, joining alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, snowboarding, ice hockey, and wheelchair curling. (In the Paralympics, both biathlon and cross-country skiing fall under the umbrella of Nordic skiing.) Male and female Paralympic athletes compete in one of three categories—sitting, standing, or visually impaired—either in sprint, middle distance, or long distance events. Total distance ranges from six to 15K, and races include two to four shooting rounds. Athletes with visual impairments wear headphones that use acoustic signals to center their rifle at the target.When did biathlon become an Olympic sport?In 1960, biathlon made its Olympic debut at the Winter Games in Squaw Valley, California, with a men’s race, and has appeared on the Olympic program ever since. Women’s biathlon joined the schedule in 1992. Over the years, additional events of varying distances and shooting segments have been added, bringing us to the 11 total biathlon events that will go on at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.
In our Sleeping With… series, we ask people from different career paths, backgrounds, and stages of life how they make sleep magic happen.Ashley Farquharson has been luge racing for over a decade, so she’s no stranger to the stress of competitions. But this time was different.“I’ve never been that worked up [about races] in my entire life,” Farquharson tells SELF about the World Cup series events that qualified her for the Beijing Games. “And it was every weekend that I was feeling that way.”Thankfully, it was all worth it: Farquharson will make her Olympic debut in women’s singles this week—and her primary goal for the 2022 Winter Games is to have a good time there.”Now that [qualifications] are over, I’m looking to sink back into my sled and get into the groove of sliding before we go to Beijing,” she told SELF last month.Farquharson, 22, got an early start training in winter sports. When she was just 11, she began competing in luge after watching her older brother participate in it. Both Farquharsons had the advantage of training at a world-class facility: The family’s hometown of Park City, Utah—just 20 minutes from Salt Lake City—hosted several events at the 2002 Winter Games. So the Farquharsons, like other kids in their area, took advantage of an after-school program that allowed them to train in winter sports like luge, ski jumping, and bobsled at the elite venue.“Every Friday, they would pick us up in a van, drive us up, and slap us in some elbow pads and a helmet and send us down [the track],” she says, referring to her start in luge. The safety gear is an absolute necessity: Luge is a fast and intense sport in which athletes hurtle down an ice-covered track at an average speed of 81 mph while lying supine in a sled.Farquharson also grew up playing soccer, basketball, tennis, and softball, the latter of which she played throughout high school. But there was just something different about the high-speed intensity of the luge—her top speed is 84 mph—that held her attention. Luge became her focus, and by the time she was 15—just four years after taking up the sport—she had risen to the top ranks of the national junior team.Now, Farquharson hopes her decade-long history with the sport will propel her to Olympic success.“It’s such an experience-based sport, and a lot of it is confidence,” she says. “We have two separate suspensions in our sleds to absorb all the bumps in the ice as you go down, but if you’re stiff on the sled, you’re not going to let it absorb anything, and it’s just going to slow you down. So the more that you relax and have that faith and trust in yourself, the faster you’re going to go.”Success in her sport in Beijing would certainly be sweet, since she describes these last couple years leading up to the games as “challenging.” In 2020, the pandemic pushed back the opening of her team’s season by about six weeks, which meant the conditions in Lake Placid, New York, where they trained, were not ideal. It was so warm they couldn’t keep ice on the track, she says. That led to training cancellation after cancellation, she says. Then when the team moved on to the second half of the World Cup circuit in Germany in January 2021—they skipped the first half due to COVID-19 concerns—they weren’t used to sliding on super icy surfaces anymore. It was like relearning the sport, she says. “That really set us back.”
If you’ve come across a curling match on TV, it might make you ask, what is curling—and what’s going on with all that ice brushing and yelling?Curling can be considered more of a “slow” sport, especially when compared to other Winter Games events, which involve speed, flips, leaps, tumbles, and catching a whole lot of air. But what curling lacks in dazzling feats, it makes up for with skill and suspense. Still, to the untrained eye, spotting the action isn’t always obvious. That’s one reason you may hear people poke fun at the sport, joking that the furious ice sweeping looks more like house cleaning than an athletic event.But curling deserves respect: After all, with origins in the 16th century, it’s one of the oldest team sports in the world. And once you learn more about the sport, including why it’s called curling, how the sport is won, and what the players are really yelling about, you’ll realize this game can be chock-full of excitement too. For everything you need to know about curling at the 2022 Winter Games, read on.What is curling?Curling is a team sport—made up of four players on each single-gendered team, or teams of two in mixed doubles—that takes place on ice. Players are equipped with their own brush as well as special dual-soled shoes, which allow them to either slide on the ice or grip the ice.The goal of curling is to slide 44-pound granite stones toward a target, known as a house, in the center of the ice. To help the granite stones get to their target, players on the team are allowed to start sweeping the ice after it’s thrown. This helps clear away debris that can slow the stone down or mess with its path; sweeping also slightly melts the ice which makes the stone move faster.According to the Smithsonian, curling gets its name from how the stone turns (or curls) at the end of its path on the ice.How do you win at curling?Curling is typically played over 10 ends or rounds. In four-person curling, each team takes turns throwing eight stones each round. The teams alternate throws, and 16 stones total are thrown each round. The lead throws the first two rocks, the second throws the second two rocks, the third throws the third two, and the skip, or the captain, throws the last two.According to the World Curling Federation, a team scores one point for each of its stones that are located in or touch the house that are closer to the center of the target than any stone of the opposite team. If no team’s stones touch the house upon the conclusion of each end, then no points are scored.A lot of the strategy—and subsequent suspense we mentioned earlier—in curling comes with shot selection. For example, a draw shot is the basic scoring shot, which is designed to stop in the house or directly in front of it, NBC Sports explains. Teams can also throw a guard shot, designed to prevent an opponent from getting their stone in the house; a raise, which moves a stone into another position; or a takeout, which bumps out another stone from play. The last shot of the round is called the hammer, and the team that has the hammer has the scoring advantage—they can be more aggressive, and often try to score more than one point. (A coin toss determines which team delivers the first stone in the first end; following that, the team that doesn’t score in the prior end gets the hammer. Because a hammer is so advantageous, some teams choose to give up a point during an end so they’ll get the hammer at the next end—just another example of the importance of strategy in the sport.)
Bobsledding is one of the most iconic sports of the Winter Olympics, but people tend to have lots of questions about it. For instance, how fast do bobsleds go? How do you win at bobsledding? Or even…what is bobsledding?Many of the questions arise because people just aren’t as familiar with the ins and outs of bobsledding—which is also sometimes called bobsleigh—since fewer people tend to grow up bobsledding than playing other sports, like track, basketball, or softball. After all, with its high speeds among icy, twisty turns, it’s not typically a sport you’d see on the high school roster.But bobsledding certainly is on the Olympic schedule, and it’s been a mainstay there. The high-speed sleigh rides have been included in every Olympics except for one—the 1960 Squaw Valley Games—since it debuted in 1924. Since then, the sport has continued to evolve, and in 2002, a two-woman’s team was added to the program in Salt Lake City. This year at the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing, there will be four separate bobsled events: two-man, two-woman, four-man, and monobob for women—the last one being a brand-new event for the 2022 Games.Keep reading for answers to all your questions on bobsledding, especially as it relates to the 2022 Winter Games!What is bobsledding?Bobsledding is the sport of sliding down an ice-covered, twisting incline on a high-sided sled.There are competitive categories for four-person, two-person, and one-person sleds.According to NPR, both speed and agility are vital for bobsledders. The athletes’ speed really comes in at the beginning, when they push the heavy sled—a two-woman sled weighs at least 284 pounds—down the first 50 meters of the course. Then comes the agility part: The athletes have to cleanly jump into the sled as it hurtles down the track. This can get even trickier in the events with two or four athletes.How fast do bobsleds go?Bobsleds are fast. According to the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation, the four-man bobsled can travel at speeds of up to 93 miles per hour, and a monobob can go 75 miles per hour. All while navigating an icy, twisty track!How do you win at bobsledding?Bobsledding is a timed sport. The track fits one team at a time, so teams take turns with their runs, and their times are then compared to determine the winner. Race times are clocked from an aggregate of four separate runs known as “heats.” Whichever team has the quickest time wins. Competition tends to be really close, so race times are measured in hundredths of a second.What’s the difference between bobsledding, luge, and skeleton?Bobsled, luge, and skeleton are all categorized as “sliding sports” in the Olympic program, and as such, they have some similarities: The general goal of each sport is to slide down the track as quickly as possible. But there are some important differences between bobsled, luge, and skeleton. For one, each sport features a different type of sled, sliding style, and number of athletes inside the sled. Bobsled is typically a team sport (though this year marks the debut of the women’s monobob), in which bobsledders navigate a high-sided sled from a seated position after getting a running start. In luge, athletes start from a seated position on the sled and ride flat on their back with their feet first. In skeleton, athletes begin their run from a standing start before assuming a head-first prone position.How long has bobsledding been an Olympic sport?Bobsled made its Olympic debut in 1924 with the four-man event at the Winter Games in Chamonix, France. The two-man event was added to the Olympic program at the 1932 Winter Games in Lake Placid, and the two-woman event joined the program at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. The women’s monobob will make its Olympic debut at the Beijing Games this year.How many medals in bobsledding has Team USA won?The United States has won 25 medals in bobsled going into the Beijing Games, behind Switzerland (31) and tied with Germany (25). However, looking solely at gold medals, Germany comes out on top with 13.Does Jamaica have a bobsled team?So, does Jamaica have a bobsled team in real life? (Cool Runnings fans, we see you.) Jamaica does in fact have a bobsled team—the 1993 Disney film was based on the true story of the Jamaican national team’s debut at the 1988 Winter Olympics. According to the International Olympic Committee, the account was heavily fictionalized, although the team actually did crash in the games.Since then, the Jamaican bobsledding team has competed in six Winter Games. If you have heard more about the film again lately, that’s because Team Jamaica qualified a four-man sled to the Olympics for the first time in 24 years. They’ll also compete at the Beijing Games in two-man and women’s monobob—and are looking to come out with performances worthy of their own real-life movie montage.Related:
Bell’s coach, Adam Rippon, was also a late bloomer by most standards. The current media personality was the oldest American figure skater to qualify for his first Olympics when he made the 2018 PyeongChang team at age 28.5. Elana Meyers Taylor (Bobsled)Three-time Olympic medalist Elana Meyers Taylor is slated to compete in her fourth Olympic Games this year, this time in two events: the two-woman bobsled, an event in which she captured the bronze medal in 2010 as well as the silver in 2014 and 2018, and the monobob, a brand-new event in the Olympics this year. The 37-year-old, who gave birth to her first child, Nico, in February of 2020, won the overall women’s monobob world cup title earlier this month and is poised to contend for the elusive gold in Beijing.Becoming a mom has helped change her perspective on the sport.“As athletes, sometimes you let a sport define you. But I’m not my results. I’m Nico’s mom. I’m Nic’s wife. I’m all these other things,” she told SELF in her February digital cover story. “I feel a lot more willing to take risks and try different things within my sport because I know I have that security behind me.While she’s striving for a medal in Beijing, she’s also focused on advocacy in the sport, and is encouraging sport institutions to see their athletes on more than a one-dimensional level.“We really have to push to make sure athletes come first. If we take care of athletes off the field, they’re going to perform so much better on the field,” she says. “If you take care of athletes, the medals will come after that.”On January 31, Meyers Taylor shared on Twitter that she tested positive for COVID-19 on January 29, two days after arriving in Beijing, and is asymptomatic. According to COVID-19 guidelines from the Beijing Games, she’ll have to show two negative tests before being able to compete. The bobsledding schedule may work in her favor, though: The monobob competition begins on February 13, and the two-woman bobsled is one of the last events of the games, beginning on February 18, NBC Sports reports.6. Chloe Kim (Snowboarding)Chloe Kim was one of the breakout stars of the 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Games, when, at only 17, she became the youngest ever American to medal in snowboarding by memorably landing back-to-back 1080s to win gold in the halfpipe competition.Despite her athletic success, things haven’t gone completely smoothly since then. Kim, now 21, struggled with her mental health as a result of her newfound fame, and has recently spoken out about being the target of racism on social media and on the slopes. She broke her ankle in early 2019, started classes at Princeton, and took a 22-month break from snowboarding—something nearly unheard of at top levels of the sport.But the break from elite competition seemed rejuvenating, and Kim will enter Beijing heavily favored to defend her Olympic gold medal in the halfpipe. After all, since coming back from her hiatus, she won both the X Games and World Championships—and hasn’t lost a World Cup halfpipe event since 2018, according to Team USA.
“When I spoke up about my history of OCD and my eating disorder right before I made the [Olympic] team, I didn’t realize how much traction it would get,” she says. “So it’s been really cool getting to feel like I’ve had an impact on the conversation.”At the same time, though, it also opened the door for probing and sometimes invasive questions. Some people and some media, Seidel says, have overstepped the line.“It’s about being able to find my level of what I’m comfortable talking about, and sometimes saying no to a question I don’t feel comfortable with,” she says. “I am happy to be open and vocal about [my mental health] and I never want to obscure any parts of my story, but it doesn’t mean I want to constantly talk about it all the time.”Timing, she learned, is key for an effective conversation in the mental health space. And right before a race is not the place for it—so that’s a boundary she now enforces.“It can be hard if I’m getting ready for a huge race, and somebody wants to talk about the lowest point of my eating disorder treatment,” she says. “So there could be a little more appreciation for the fact that this is a broader conversation we need to have, but that doesn’t mean that we need to be having it constantly. We have to respect that there’s a time and a place to talk about it, but not necessarily right before large competitions.”4. Seek out a mental health professional.While it’s great to share with friends and on social media platforms, sometimes it’s best to consult with a professional—and to continue that relationship if you already have one.“Therapy is really good for being able to take a step back and reflect on things that are bothering me,” Seidel says. “I think when you deal with OCD and anxiety, [they] are often a control mechanism to manage the stressors coming from outside forces in your life, so being able to take a step back and analyze the way those things are affecting you, to objectively look at it and say ‘how are these things affecting my behavior and my thought pattern?’ is super important.”When you start to feel like you’re on an upward trajectory, that shouldn’t be permission to start canceling sessions, she believes. Like logging mileage in marathon training, the efficacy of therapy requires regular upkeep even when things seem to be going well.5. Experiment with recovery options that work for you.While recovery is vital, it’s not cookie-cutter. The same options that work for someone else might not be the best fit for you—and something that works for you in one circumstance or situation may not be what your body is looking for in another.And when Seidel is training hard, it becomes even more important. While preparing for the New York City Marathon, Seidel ramped up her mileage from 100 to 130 miles per week. That usually looked like 90 minutes in the morning and 40 minutes in the afternoon. She supplemented these sessions with strength training to prevent injury and yoga to stay flexible.During times like this, getting enough rest is key. In some cases, that can mean simply sleep, but in others, it can mean downtime.“It’s a wonder what a simple 30-minute nap will do for the body and mind,” she says. “I love napping during training, as they really help me refresh.”Seidel also regularly uses products from Beam—a Boston-based CBD company founded by former pro athletes Kevin Moran and Matt Lombardi—to help her recovery. Some of her favorites include the ‘focus’ capsules, ‘revive’ capsules, ‘the one’ hemp oil salve, and ‘the fixer,’ a hemp-infused balm for sore muscles.Along with prioritizing sleep and muscle recovery, Seidel also makes sure to schedule time to keep her mind fresh, too. She sets aside time to read, listen to audiobooks and “rock out” to music to decompress.“Meditation, mindfulness, and simple rest are super important to me,” Seidel says.Related: