ASPEN, Colo. – Hannah Teter had a difficult road ahead. With two qualifiers done, she had to do well enough in the final three qualifying events to make the U.S. Olympic team for a third time.
So the Vermont native turned to a familiar motto, one that stayed with her since a visit to PyeongChang, South Korea, last February.
"I've done all the Olympic trials with a whole different mindset, the whole Special Olympics mindset, their motto – let me win but if I cannot win let me be brave in the attempt," she said.
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The two-time Olympic medalist became involved in Special Olympics a few years ago, inspired by Josh, her older brother who has special needs. She traveled to the Special Olympics World Games last year and last week, she was named a global ambassador.
"That really changed my world when I went to Korea this past winter," she said. "The whole mindset of competition is where it should be on the professional level. Everyone's there cheering each other on, high fives all around before everybody goes. There's just so much love at the top and so much support for everybody."
Teter, 26, says it helped her as she tried to make the U.S. team. She didn't make the final in any of the first three events. But the final for the third qualifier in Breckenridge, Colo., had to be canceled because of the weather.
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The U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association changed the schedule, holding three qualifiers in one week in Mammoth. Teter finished third in all three to secure her spot on the team.
"I do really well in pressure situations," Teter said. "So Mammoth was my comeback, and it was my warm-up going into Sochi."
The 2006 gold medalist and 2010 silver medalist, Teter said she feels her past Olympic experience can help. She and Kelly Clark – who is a two-time medalist and is going to her fourth Olympics – are the only veterans on the team.
Arielle Gold, 17, and Kaitlyn Farrington, 23, are each making their first Olympic experience. Even with rookies on the team, Teter feels the USA is in position for a sweep – something she feels she can be a part of after a challenging qualifying experience.
"I feel really strong. I feel like I'm riding better than I ever have," she said. "The mindset going to Sochi is style, strength, technicality. That's what the judges are looking for, and I think I can provide that."