Healthy Hero Danielle Scott
AWE-INSPIRING AERIAL TUMBLES AND TURNS ARE ALL PART OF A DAY’S WORK FOR OLYMPIAN DANIELLE SCOTT – AND THE LEVEL OF FOCUS, SKILL AND SELF-BELIEF SHE NEEDS IS EVERY BIT AS IMPRESSIVE.
In March, Australia’s Danielle Scott claimed the silver medal in aerial skiing at the 2017 FSI Freestyle Ski and Snowboard World Championships, and is now ranked second in the world in a sport she took up just over a decade ago.
Back then, as a 16-year-old teenager growing up on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, Danielle had never even tried on a pair of skis, let alone hit the snow wearing them. Now 27, a unique blend of skill, commitment and determination has seen her soar to the top of her game. And she’s nowhere near finished yet. FIRSTLY, CONGRATULATIONS ON WINNING YOUR MOST RECENT SILVER MEDAL. WHAT DID THAT MEAN TO YOU? Thank you! After a season of highs and lows it was pretty special, and the level of competition was remarkable. The girl who beat me was amazing. Her final jump was a back-full, double-full, full, and she became the first woman to land it in competition. To compete alongside someone who so successfully pushed the boundaries of women’s sport was incredible and inspiring.
HOW DID YOUR AERIAL SKIING CAREER BEGIN? As a gymnast! I competed in gymnastics at an elite level, before retiring when I was just 13. Because I was still very young, I felt like I wasn’t ‘done’ and that I hadn’t reached my full potential, so I tried a variety of other sports. Some of my friends had been scouted for the aerial skiing program, which really appealed to me even though I wasn’t a skier, but I knew they wouldn’t take me until I was 16 – so I had three years to wait. When I was finally accepted, it was everything I’d hoped it’d be: challenging, exciting and full of adrenaline. It was an epic journey, right from the very beginning.
SO YOU HAD NEVER SKIED BEFORE? No. It turns out it’s easier to take a gymnast and teach them how to ski than take a skier and teach them how to flip! But the process of learning to ski is intense. It took two years, starting off at Mount Buller in Victoria, and then going to Utah to continue the fast-track training program. You need to be a worldclass skier before you can even contemplate jumping.
YOU ATTENDED YOUR FIRST OLYMPICS IN 2014 – DID IT LIVE UP TO THE HYPE? Definitely. By that stage I’d been to World Cups, but the Olympics is another level. You have so many different sporting disciplines all gathered together in the one place, and every single person is so driven and focused. The sense of accomplishment you feel just being there is amazing.
WHAT’S YOUR IDEA OF HEALTHY EATING? Enjoying the food I eat, while at the same time nourishing my body. What you put in is what you get out, and I genuinely feel good after I’ve eaten a wholesome, nutritious meal. My diet has to be quite structured to make sure I get the energy I need, which means striking the right balance between carbohydrates and protein. And because I travel so much, plenty of fruit and vegetables are essential to stay healthy. But as a team we’re often immersed in different cultures, so we plan ahead by traveling with protein powders and meal supplements in case we can’t get our hands on the food we need.
HOW DO YOU RECHARGE, AWAY FROM SKIING? My favourite place to be is the beach. Growing up, surfing was very much part of my lifestyle, but being >
“Aerial skiing is challenging, exciting and full of adrenaline.”
based in Salt Lake City, I don’t get to do it too often. During the two months of the year that I’m able to spend back home in Australia, I take every chance I have to get into the water.
WHAT’S MORE IMPORTANT TO YOU: HOW YOUR BODY LOOKS OR HOW WELL IT PERFORMS? Body image is such a complex issue. Being a gymnast was interesting, because it’s a body-conscious sport where the general feeling is that you can’t be successful unless you’re very slim. I was fortunate because I retired when I was still quite young, but watching the impact the
“I don’t weigh myself or focus on a number – it’s about feeling good.”
pressure to look a certain way had on some of the older girls was quite confronting. Aerial skiing is totally different. Like a lot of athletes, we often develop muscles in places that change our body shape dramatically, but it’s not about how I look, it’s about how I feel and making sure my body has the energy it needs and that it can perform well. So I don’t weigh myself and I don’t focus on a number – it’s all about feeling good.
HOW DO YOU MAINTAIN A POSITIVE MINDSET? There are so many variables in this sport, and many that you have no control over, like the weather. So part of our training is learning to focus on the things within our control, and not letting the things we can’t control get to us. But when things get tough or don’t go to plan, I have a few positive self-talk techniques that I use to help me clear my mind. You can get so caught up in negative thoughts and ideas that if you’re not careful, you can’t see things as they really are. I might say something like, “Let negative thoughts float away like clouds”, but I also come up with new mantras to fit a particular situation. ARE YOU ALWAYS SETTING NEW GOALS TO WORK TOWARDS? Setting smaller, stepping-stone goals is a useful mental tool, because it helps you see and acknowledge your progress towards the bigger picture. But I try not to get too hung up on whether I’m able to tick off every one of those goals. It’s impossible to achieve every single goal you set yourself, and you don’t want to beat yourself up if you ‘fail’. Instead, I always come back to trying to remember what I love about the sport – being competitive, the adrenaline of jumping, and the chase to better your last performance. That chase keeps you going, because it’s never-ending.
WHAT DOES THE REST OF 2017 HOLD FOR YOU? I’ll spend it preparing for the 2018 Winter Olympics. It’s eight months away, but that time will fly. It’s the lead-up to the biggest moment of my career so far, so I have a mix of excitement and nerves, but as an adrenaline junkie, anything that gets my nerves going isn’t something to shy away from – it’s something to look forward to. I see it as an opportunity to get out there and do the best that I can do. #