Three-time Olympian Hannah Kearney has come a long way. Although she's always been a phenomenal mogul skier, she's faced plenty of adversity - the 2006 Winter Games come to mind pretty quickly, when Kearney placed 22nd out of 30 competitors. But rather than letting that defeat her, the Vermont native learned from her mistakes, and spent the last six years rising to the top of her game. So much so, in fact, that she snatched the gold in the 2010 Games, and was projected to repeat in this year's Games. Unfortunately, a mistake on the course during the medal round dropped her out of contention for the top spot. But she still came away a winner: with head held high, Kearney stood on the podium claiming bronze for the U.S. After so many setbacks, we caught up with the champion (because winning a bronze is still pretty badass) to find out more about bouncing back, and whether or not retirement is in her near future.
Tell us about your Sochi experience? How do you feel coming away with a bronze medal?
Sochi has exceed my expectations. The mogul course was challenging, yet fun to ski. I knew I was capable of winning a gold medal again - I have made sacrifices, trained hard and made mogul skiing my life for the past four years. Although I am proud to be a two-time Olympic medalist, and grateful I got to compete in the Games for a third time, I am disappointed that I made a large mistake in my final run.
But bronze is still amazing! And you've come such a long way since the 2006 Olympics. How did you stay motivated amidst such discouragement?
I viewed every setback - injuries; losses - as an opportunity to become a stronger mental competitor. I believe that everything happens for a reason, so when I was sidelined from training and competitions, I tried to make the most of the break by adopting a dog, putting up a Christmas tree for the first time, and watching more of my brother's hockey games.
Anything specific you can credit to your rise to success?
There have been many factors. Opportunity, supportive parents, a community that valued winter recreation, and coaches and friends who believed in me when I was very young. And a little bit of luck.
So...will we see you in the next Games potentially? Or are you thinking about retirement?
It's hard to answer that when I feel as strong as ever and very motivated by the feeling that I can ski better than I demonstrated at Sochi.
What's next for you, then?
After completing the World Cup season in Japan, Norway and France, I will be finishing my freshman year at Dartmouth in the spring!
OK, time to spill some of your success secrets. What's on your pump-you-up playlist?
A little bit of everything. What about food? Any that really fuel your fire?
I eat Bear Naked granola when I need a quick snack to give me energy! Plus, I love that the granola has ingredients that I can see and recognize on the label. I'll mix it into a Chobani yogurt for a hearty, balanced, natural snack for pre- and post-workout.When I need to grab-and-go, I'll use Bear Naked's single serving packs - I keep them in my workout bag and in my car.
You're working with Bear Naked on the #OneUpIt challenge. How do you plan to "One Up" your game post-Sochi?
I'm in the process of planning my One Upping strategy. I feel strong and motivated, so I am not ready to retire. I will train this summer to add a more difficult trick to my repertoire.
More from FITNESS: