By Grant Johnson
Photo courtesy NBC Olympics/USOC
Steamboat Springs, CO-
Q. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
A. My coach told me “Big trees grow slowly.” I use that, and share that advice, on a daily basis.
Q. How do you like to relax?
A. I have a few stress-relieving activities that keep me on an even tilt. I often can be found at home with my fiancée, Nikki, enjoying our TV shows, or cooking a delicious dinner. Of course, one of my all-time favorites is a cold beer with good friends laughing the night away. It can be the perfect recovery from a hard week of training or a long block of competitions.
Q. Where’s your favorite place to train (other than Steamboat)?
A. Park City, Utah. The roads and trails there I know in an out, and sometimes I love to just wake up early and ride my road bike all day long exploring new routes and countryside. Outside of the USA, I would have to say some of our European destinations offer stress-free training. At home you have responsibilities, social events, etc. that can often distract you from perfect training, rest and recovery. When I am on the road some of those distractions are gone and I can turn off the brain and get into a very nice training rhythm. Yes, that means naps during the day too.
Q. Do you have any superstitions?
A. No major ones. I often use the same socks or clothing until it has to be retired… but I try very hard though to eliminate any superstitions from my sport life. I feel they can be an excuse for poor performance, or distract you from the task at hand.
Q. What’s the
hardest race you’ve ever done?
A. No race is easy! They are all very hard. Last year, while in Sochi in the summer, with 105 degree weather and 100% humidity, I had a really hard time surviving the races. I am not one to enjoy extreme heat, so that race would rank up there.
Q. What does a typical day of training look like for you?
A. Vitamins from USANA followed by breakfast, to make sure there are no nutritional gaps, which can affect my performance. After that, I hit up the foam roller and fit ball for about 30 minutes of stretching and soft tissue work. After that, I am off usually either to jumping or for a distance session. A typical jump session lasts about 2.5 hours and a distance can be anywhere from 90 min to 5 hours, depending on the schedule. The day usually wraps up with a healthy home-cooked dinner, followed by stretching and foam rolling. I hate to admit it but I am usually fast asleep by 10 p.m… I love to have my beauty rest.
Q. What’s your favorite thing about your sport?
A. I would be a liar if I said I didn’t enjoy the travelling. I have gotten to go to some pretty cool places and see some pretty cool things I never thought I would. Outside of the travel, over the years I have really grown to appreciate how the hard work is paying off. This sport takes a lot of work to be successful. One good result is so rewarding, I forget all the sacrifices I have made. I owe a lot to the sport and the people involved for shaping who I am today.
Q. If you weren’t a professional athlete, what would you want
A. This is a question I am still pondering a lot. I currently take a few classes of school a year to continue my education. The time has come to decide what I want to be and the truth is, I have no idea. I thought I knew as a kid, but now that my eyes are open to the world I am having a hard time making the choice.
Q. What’s it like to compete alongside your brother?
A. Awesome! Taylor is an inspiration to me on the cross-country side. He has some serious talent and will eventually overshadow me. We really enjoy skiing alongside each other and pushing each other on a daily basis. Pretty cool to be able to have your brother as your training partner, no matter where you are in the world.
Q. If you had to live in an earlier time, when would that be?
A. The late 1800s or the early 1900s. I would love to have been the lone cowboy riding his horse West, exploring the country, stumbling upon the Rocky Mountains or the red rock. So many cool things to see, and it would have been so cool to see them so untouched and unexplored.
Q. What are some
of your favorite mountain bike trails in Steamboat?
A. Truthfully, I don’t currently have a mountain bike. Hopefully I will have one soon. As a kid I loved riding up to the quarry (on Emerald Mountain), or taking the gondola up and riding down. Last year I rode the Steamboat Stinger race course. I would have to say that’s my most recent favorite.
Q. What was your
favorite activity to do in Steamboat as a kid?
A. I used to love skateboarding and BMX. I spent every minute of my summer days at the skate park or building dirt jumps. If I wasn’t there, I was probably at the pool riding the waterslide. Of course, tubing the river was near the top of that list too.
Q. If you had a superpower, what would it be?
A. The power to fly. I think soaring over the world like a bird would be an unreal experience. Perhaps that’s why I got into Nordic combined at such a young age.