What Drives the Winning Spirit

11/30/2017

Winter 2017

Win or lose, the athletes profiled in the Winter 2017 issue of Drive give it their all, every day, to compete at the top level. For them, it’s all about the active life, being their best selves and following their dreams. Below, the athletes we profiled offer more of their thoughts on training, their passion for their sports and what’s enabled them to succeed at the highest level.

Zoe Kalapos
Photo credit: Toby Miller

Zoe Kalapos

Snowboarding

On her training regimen:

“I like to get to the mountain early, before it actually opens. I go into the lodge and do an extensive warmup to get my muscles ready. I snowboard for four or five hours every day. Then I head home, make myself lunch and enjoy some downtime. After that, I head to the gym for a strength workout, core class, spin class or one of the workouts my trainer has put together for me. After the gym, I have video review with my coach, where we go over footage from the day. This is helpful for me because I’m a visual learner and like to see what I need to focus on the next day, and how riding from that day looked.

“Later, I like to head to a lake or river nearby for an ice bath, which is a great way for my muscles to recover. I sit in the cold water for 12 to 15 minutes, making sure that by the time I get out my legs feel as if they haven’t been working out all day. I usually finish the day with an early dinner and a good book in bed, just to ensure that I get the rest I need to do it all again the next day. Training is something that never stops!”

Visit Zoe’s Subaru Meet an Owner page. 

Vincent Zhou
Photo credit: Harry How / Getty Images

Vincent Zhou

Figure Skating 

On winning the 2017 Junior World Championship:

“I was not the favorite going in. I was struggling with a hip injury and wasn’t skating to my full potential. But I got the injury fixed, and it was amazing; I was injury-free before nationals. I didn’t have to hold back. People had me in mind for podium contender, not for the win – but I knew full well I was able to win if I skated cleanly. All season I knew I could win, but all season I was held back with the injury. As I was training healthy, though, all of it came together at the right moment.

“My training program was scheduled so I peaked at Junior Worlds. The first day I got there I was skating really well, landing quads. When you get on the ice you’re not warmed up and it’s hard to do stuff, but I skated a clean practice program. It was very satisfying. So it was a combination of confidence, a great team that was willing and able to communicate to the athlete, and everyone from parents to coaches working together well. It all came together at the right time and place.”

Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Chris Knierim
Photo credit: On Man Kevin Lee / ISU
via Getty Images

Alexa Scimeca Knierim & Chris Knierim

Pair Skating

Chris on getting started in the sport and the pair’s workout schedule: 

“When I started, I wasn’t graceful or pretty to look at or anything like that. I wanted to go fast and jump around, but there was no finesse involved. Even now I’m not like a normal, typical guy skater. I worked at auto shops for a few years to help pay for skating. And one of our programs was to Metallica’s Nothing Else Matters. I don’t think anyone has done that, at least not a pair team!

“We skate five days a week, and then we have off-ice training four days a week. We do weightlifting and a lot of cardio. As the season progresses we’ll cut back on that to two days a week. On a typical day we get to the rink between 8 and 8:15 a.m. Our session starts at 9:10 and goes until 9:55. We go home, have a lunch break, and then go back to the rink around 11:30 to get ready for our 12:45 session. Then we do two 45-minute sessions back-to-back. After that we do off-ice training, usually for an hour. Finally, we’ll have physical therapy or, once a week, a massage. We’re usually done for the day around 5:30 or 6 o’clock.”

Alexa on putting it all into their career:

“In some respects, a lot of our friends who aren’t figure skaters are trying to figure out their paths in life, their passion or career, maybe thinking about settling down and having kids. They still feel like they haven’t hit the peak of their journey. We’re already married and our competitive life and career is what we want to do! We do sacrifice multiple vacations, or the ‘normal summer’ of a married couple. We can’t just stay at the beach. Everything we have, we put into our career.”

Alyson Dudek
Photo credit: George Frey / Getty Images

Alyson Dudek

Short Track Speed Skating

On what it takes to compete at an elite level:

“There is quite a bit of sacrifice involved. Growing up, I wouldn’t have time to go to sleepovers, or birthday parties or even prom, because I had to train, or I had competitions. I finished high school early, when I was 17, and moved from Milwaukee to Salt Lake City by myself. When you commit, you dedicate your entire life to the sport, and that also includes location, relationships and experiences. But I can picture my very first [time as a member of Team USA], just walking through the tunnel into the arena. I was like, ‘My goodness, I’m part of Team USA, and I’ve worked my entire life for this.’ I can still picture that moment, crystal clear.”

Read more about these athletes in The Winning Spirit, published Winter 2017.