Keri Herman is one of the world’s leading Slopestyle skiers. After a tremendous first round at the FIS World Cup Slopestyle qualifying event in Argentina, Keri entered the history books as one of the first people to place first in such an event.
This great achievement also means that Keri is now the holder of a gold bib, which signifies that she is leading the pack to qualify for the US winter Olympic team for the upcoming winter Olympics, which will be held in Sochi, Russia in 2014. I recently had the chance to interview Keri about her recent success, and about what shaped and molded her into one of the best in her sport.
Growing up, who were your role models and how did they help shape you into becoming one of the best Slopestyle skiers around today?
KH: Growing up I played hockey and I really looked up to Manon Rheaume. She was the first and only woman to ever sign with a pro hockey team (Tampa Bay Lightening). When I started Freeskiing later in life, I looked up to Sarah Burke. She was one of the most amazing people and talented skiers I have ever met.
Before you started freeskiing at age 21 you played hockey. Is skiing something you always wanted to do on a professional level? How did you make the switch from playing hockey to skiing?
KH: I played ice hockey through my senior year in high school. I looked at a few D3 teams to play for in College, but ultimately decided to quit the game and go to the University of Denver to focus on my education. I had skied a few times here and there throughout my life, but never anything serious. After I came home from Australia where I was spending a semester abroad, I was really sick of warm weather and started going up to the mountains more. Skiing instantly filled a void in my life. I loved having an activity to focus on and quickly excelled my skills to a point where I was winning competitions.
Going to the Olympics is a dream for many athletes. What will you be doing to ensure you cement your place in the 2014 US Winter Olympic team?
KH: This season, like every other, I am going to work my butt off to progress my skills and be the best skier I can be. To do this, I am working with an amazing trainer Scott Furgussen at Crossfit of Breckenridge, eating healthy, and trying to have the most fun I possibly can. The more fun I have, I’ve found out, the better I perform and progress.
How often do you train? How do you train for major tournaments/events? Are there any specific workouts or regimens that you follow?
KH: I don’t like to consider it training because I don’t want to forget that skiing is the most fun! Every day is just another excuse to go play outside with my friends. As long as I can keep it that way, I believe I can continue to be awesome. I try to ski 5-6 days a week, and go to the gym about 4.
Before you compete in an event, what do you do to help you focus on what you are about to be doing?
KH: Visualizing is key for me. I need to sit by myself and focus on every detail of my run for at least an hour. The more I visualize on the things I need to do, the easier it is for me to perform under pressure.
After a great display in the first ever FIS World Cup Slopestyle qualifying event in Argentina, you sit in first place and made history in the process. How does it feel to know you are the first person to win such a qualifying event, and how does it feel to be sitting in first place?
KH: It’s really exciting to be sitting in first, but it’s also pretty scary. There are so many amazing skiers out there, and I’m going to have to keep my skiing on point if I want to hold my spot. This is going to be a really exciting season!
The next qualifying round will be the VISA U.S. Freeskiing Grand Prix at Copper Mountain in Colorado. Do you think you will have a major advantage over others with this being in your home state?
KH: A lot of skiers base themselves out of CO for the ski season, but yes, it is always nice to have a contest so close to home. Copper is a really fun mountain and I am looking forward to that contest.
Before the Olympics there are of course other events such as the Dew Tour in December, and the Winter X games in January. How excited are you about these upcoming events, and what are you hoping to achieve? What other events will you be competing in?
KH: The Dew Tour is always a ton of fun because it is held in Breckenridge, my home mountain. The course is always great and it’s fun to ski on familiar jumps. X Games is a huge production and a really intimidating event. I am always really nervous going into it, but my family comes out and after getting used to the course it is just another day skiing with friends. I will be competing in Slope at X Games, and hopefully both Slope and Pipe for Dew Tour. I’m really excited for these events, and my goal is to ski my personal best.
You have risen to the top of your profession and have many fans. What tips would you give to your younger fans who would like to follow in your footsteps one day?
KH: Keep your head up and smile! The more fun you have, the more you will be enjoying what you do, and the better you will get. Do not be afraid to fall. My hockey coach once told me “If you’re not falling, you’re not trying hard enough.”
Being a professional athlete is hard work, and very stressful. What do you like to do in your time away from the slopes?
KH: I have been making a ton of jewelry in my free time that I will be selling soon. I pick up beads during my travels around the world and use them in my original designs. I also hang out with my friends, go out to eat, go to movies, cook, read books, do puzzles, and play with my kitten and teach her tricks.
There is no doubt that Keri is on the top of her game right now, and she will be working hard to ensure that all of her dreams come true in the upcoming Dew Tour, the X Games and qualification for the Winter Olympics in 2014.
If you would like to know more about Keri Herman and her road to the Olympics you can follow her on Facebook and Twitter