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Recent FIS News
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YOG 2012 Athlete Role Model: Shannon Bahrke Happe
FIS Freestyle Athlete Role Model at the Innsbruck Youth Olympic Games 2012 is Shannon Bahrke Happe. She is an American mogul skier, a two-time Olympic medalist and a many-time FIS World Ski Championship medalist. After retiring in February 2010 after the Vancouver Games she is now the owner of Silver Bean Coffee Co., a successful coffee shop very involved with supporting athletes.
How has being a professional athlete helped shape you? Has it helped you develop on a personal level?
I think that being an athlete is everything who I am. As an athlete, I have been traveling the world since I was 15 years old. The biggest thing is the confidence to just go for it! It is important to follow your dreams instead of holding back. The reward is always much more than the risk.
On the cultural level?
At least in the USA there is a lot of media about different cultures and not all is positive. There are constant alerts not to travel and not to go to certain places due to different backgrounds, but really there are amazing things out there. Being an athlete has given me the chance to see different cultural backgrounds where otherwise I may not have experienced them.
As your nation looks to you for inspiration, how has being an athlete changed you as an American?
I think that competing for the US has made me thankful for where I come from. Seeing the US flag raised was amazing. After that moment Americans reached out to me from all corners of the country. There was support from my family, community, friends and many different backgrounds. It has made me be proud and really appreciate my country.
As a successful business owner now, how has being an athlete helped you reach these professional goals?
Being an athlete has given me a certain attitude towards life. As an athlete you go through so many processes and many aspects are very calculated. You have to work super hard to have success and also you have to make sacrifices. It is still a bit scary being a business owner but being vulnerable is an essential ingredient for success. Through following your passion is how you reap rewards. What makes me really happy is seeing the skiers all coming in for coffee on their way to the mountain and knowing that I am contributing to their day.
Can you say a bit more about your business and how you have involved other Olympians and athletes?
For me as an athlete I always struggled as it is hard to make money in sport. That said I feel lucky that I have been able to earn some money through my career. So for me it is giving back to other athletes by enabling them to make it to where they are and where they want to go. Raising money through my business for them really lets me be a part of their journey on their way to their dreams. So many people have been a part of my journey and I would love to be a part of theirs.
What has been your biggest struggle on the way to success as an athlete?
I would have to say it has always come after injuries. With injuries it is always easy to second guess yourself. You ask yourself if you have what it takes to get back where you once were. Also when you are injured you can't be as active towards your goal. In your head you always second guess whether you will recover or not.
What are you most proud of?
Besides being a competitor and winning Olympic medals, the friendships I have made, the people that I have met and the lives that I have touched are what I am most proud of.
Why is it important for you to be an ARM at the YOG's?
When you are young to have the chance to compete at an event like this is a huge opportunity. For me to pass that knowledge on to the young athletes is truly inspirational. It is important for me to be part of their experience and give them tips from a professional athlete.
What is your main message to these youth aspiring athletes?
It is going to be an up and down ride. Nothing will come easy and when it does it will get hard again. But if they work as hard as they can to achieve success by dedicating themselves to a long haul it will pay off. The ups and downs are an important part of the journey, so ride the tough times out.
Can you comment on some Olympic memories? How does it feel being a part of the Olympic spirit? How has participating in past Olympics impacted you?
Being an Olympian is amazing. Actually getting the uniform for the Olympics was one of the best moments ever, it felt like Christmas. I will never forget that. Another amazing memory was the opening ceremonies with Team USA at the Vancouver Games. I remember being under the stairs waiting to go into the stadium. We were cheering with Canada to see who could chant louder. Go USA! Go Canada! And so on. The Vancouver Games were 8 years after my last medal so being able to get another medal while my teammate won gold and seeing two American flags being raised was unreal.
What was your best moment as a professional athlete? Which moment was the most fun?
My best moment ever as an athlete was winning the 2002 Gold Cup for Americans. It is a winner takes all cup and 1st place gets a spot for the Olympics and $10,000. My
Dad's response to me going to the Olympics was huge for me. He was tearing up and I knew I made my parents proud. All our money growing up went into skiing rather than vacations so finally I could give back to my parents. As for the most fun, walking into the closing ceremonies with my little brother in Vancouver 2010 together arm in arm was a killer moment.
What are you most excited for during your stay in Innsbruck?
I am most excited to see that one kid that is really breaking out of their shell. Someone that is not expected to do as well as they do giving them the boost to excel in their career.
You can catch Shannon Bahrke Happe at the Youth Olympic Games in Innsbruck January 13th until 16th 2012!
Contributed by Marissa Mathews
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