Hannah Kearney has been having these dreams since she retired from moguls skiing last year. Olympic dreams.
In a recent sleep, Kearney, the 2010 Olympic champion, saw the U.S. earning the right to host a future Winter Games. Inspiration to strap on the skis again?
“Now I’m thinking that would have to be over eight years from now, so I think that’s really, really unlikely,” said Kearney, who turned 30 in February. “I think part of me just doesn’t know what to do.”
Kearney last competed March 27, 2015, winning the U.S. Championships one final time to finish a strong season and a decorated career. From 2004 through 2015, Kearney amassed two Olympic medals, three world titles and a record-tying 46 World Cup wins.
Kearney struggled to decide when to retire, but she moved on quickly after hanging up the skis. Kearney took her name out of the drug-testing pool later that spring — the “official” sign of retirement in Olympic sports — and returned to school.
It took Kearney four years to complete three semesters’ worth of Dartmouth classes while juggling her gold-medal moguls career. She’s now a junior at Westminster College in Utah, a full-time student having just declared her major of marketing.
Earlier this month, Kearney was surrounded by her former teammates in New York City for the U.S. Ski Team’s Gold Medal Gala fundraising event.
Hours earlier, Kearney sat in a Manhattan hair salon chair with a laptop, putting the finishing touches on a financial analysis of Delta versus United for her Finance 300 class.
“It’s due at midnight, so I figured I better get it in before the ski ball starts,” she said.
Kearney is taking five classes this semester plus working a paid marketing-department internship with Promontory, a luxury Park City real estate community. She called it her “first real-world job.”
“It turns out I don’t have a lot of experience with that sort of stuff,” Kearney joked. “It’s the juggling act that all Americans deal with, and I never had to, so I can’t really complain.”
So, where are those Olympic dreams coming from? Well, Kearney is going to the gym three days per week with longtime teammate Jeremy Cota and following his strength program.
“We spend so much time training our bodies, I don’t want to just lose it all instantly [in retirement],” she said. “So I’ve just been trying to maintain.”
Kearney, who once won 16 straight World Cup events, always struggled with pull-ups. She says proudly that she can still do three sets of eight pull-ups, the same benchmark from during her moguls career.
“It was like a mental battle when I was an athlete,” she said. “I do not want to go back to not being able to do pull-ups.”
Kearney skied moguls this past winter, unwillingly, while urged by others in Park City.
“Not warming up and going to the moguls no longer feels good,” she said. “Jumping into a mogul field, it makes me feel as if I never was good at the sport to begin with.”Follow @nzaccardi