Halfpipe’s new golden girl: Kaitlyn Farrington
Halfpipe’s newest golden girl, Kaitlyn Farrington, sat down with Monster Energy’s Shay Will to talk about what went down in Sochi, how it felt to top the Olympic podium, and how her life will never be the same.
Interview & photos by Shay Williams
How’s it feel to be an Olympic gold medalist?
Well, the Olympics were crazy. I wasn’t expected to win but I think I surprised a lot of people because I barely made the US team. And to walk away with the gold medal has been incredible. My life has changed forever.
You barely made the team and you were not the favorite to win in Sochi. Did that take some of the pressure off?
I don’t think it really took any pressure off, for me. But I knew the runs I wanted to do in Sochi, so I went there trying to land my runs and make finals.
When you made finals, were you having fun at that point or were you thinking that you needed to lock it down and focus more?
I was just having fun while I was there. The only time I was nervous was my first run in qualifiers. That was when I was like, “Holy shit, I’m at the Olympics,” and had my freak out. Then after I was thinking that this is just another contest.
What was it like representing your country?
I never thought I’d be so patriotic ,but while I was in Russia, I was so patriotic. Just Team USA the whole time.
When you were growing up in Idaho, did you ever think you’d be in this position?
When I started snowboarding I never thought I’d be an Olympic gold medalist. I was just trying to get to X Games in the beginning and that was the goal. Then I felt like maybe I’d be at the Olympics someday but I never thought I’d walk away from my first Games with gold.
What does it mean to bring home gold to the US and to Idaho?
To bring home gold makes me feel like all the hard work that I’ve put in over the years has paid off. I would have been happy with bronze or silver, too. [laughs] But it means that it all paid off in the end. I worked my ass off and I made it happen for myself.
What was it like qualifying for the US Team?
Qualifying for the team was probably the most difficult part of this whole process. There are so many strong American riders and we had contests every week, from one place to the next. We had five contests, but it was pretty much six since we had one canceled and then three the next week in Mammoth. That kind of sucked. It was hectic. In Mammoth I kind of wrote myself off, thinking I wasn’t going to make the team because it was coming down to that last discretionary spot.
When I was dropping in at that last contest—on my final run no less—I heard the announcer say, “Kaitlyn has to win if she wants to make the team.” And to hear that, it’s like, no pressure or anything. [laughs] But yeah, the qualifying process was definitely the hardest part.
It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity for some people. Do you think it’s worth all the sacrifice for this one chance?
In the end, if you do well and you walk away happy with your experience at the Olympics then yes, it’s worth all the sacrifices. But I can see the other side where people just hate and it’s just stressful and snowboarding is supposed to be fun. And sometimes the Olympics doesn’t make it fun.
It seemed like watching you on TV that you were having fun versus other people who might have been more serious looking.
I was having a blast. I had the longest day, riding through qualifiers and semifinals and then through finals. For semifinals practice I wouldn’t drop in on the same side, I kept switching it up and changing the run I was doing. The coaches were like, “Kaitlyn, you should really do the run you want to do,” but I needed to go snowboarding, kind of. To get into that mindset a bit. Because I know when I’m having fun I ride at my best. After I took my second run, I was at the bottom so relieved that it was all over. I just wanted to keep it fun for myself.
You dropped pretty early in the finals run order, what was it like sitting there, having to sit through Hannah Teter, Kelly Clark and Torah Bright?
I didn’t really care. I was thinking that I came out and landed the best run that I could have today. I was happy with my score and how I was sitting. I was happy to be able to sit and relax. There is so much hype and pressure and everyone puts that on you, so once it was all over I was relieved. Watching all of those girls come down was fun because I actually got to watch the contest. I don’t really watch people before I go.
What was it like when you realized that, a) You were on the podium with just Kelly and Torah left, and b) When you realized that you had won?
I think Hannah Teter might have nudged me, and was like, “You’re on the podium no matter what!” And once I realized that, I was thinking it was so awesome. I was at my first Olympics making the podium. I was really excited. And once Kelly came down and her score popped up, it was, “Holy cow, I just won the Olympics!” Kind of a surreal moment for me. My parents were there and they got to watch the whole thing, so it was awesome to have them there and experience it with me.
What were the flower and official medal ceremonies like?
For that flower ceremony it was kind of, I don’t know, cool. We’re here and this is a cool thing to be a part of. I think it hadn’t hit me that I’d won until I was walking over the bridge to go behind the stage. It was the next day and I’d been doing so much media up until that point. You look out and see like 20,000 people that were standing there. It was like a concert. That’s when it hit me. I hadn’t seen the medal so I didn’t really believe it yet. But it was awesome to stand on that stage and hear the national anthem played. It was a very cool experience.
How has life been since?
The whirlwind media tour has been awesome. I like talking so… I just get to talk about myself and tell people how awesome I am all day… [laughs]