Although she calls Vermont home, Hannah Kearney was born at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, went to Hanover High School and skied for the Waterville Valley Freestyle Team. So when she won America's first gold medal in Vancouver's 2010 Olympics, the Granite State claimed bragging rights. Since then she has stayed busy competing and training for the next Winter Olympics in Russia in 2014. She gets frequent requests to speak to students and young athletes, where she likes to remind them you can be successful and still enjoy life. She and her gold medal appeared in Manchester on Sept. 22 at the Tri-City Expo where she signed autographs and represented her local sponsor, Lovering Volvo of Nashua.
So, where is your gold medal now, and where is the strangest place you've ever taken it?
My Gold medal is locked in a fire proof box under my bed. Once I retire and spend more time at home, I plan to display it proudly in some sort of frame that my dad will construct.
I let my mom take the medal to Nova Scotia to share with my grandfather, aunt and cousins. It happens to show up as a dark spot on the TSA's screen at security, so they always end up searching my bag and being very surprised by what they find when I travel.Mogul skiing seems so punishing. Why would you choose it as a sport?
I didn't exactly chose mogul skiing. I grew up skiing with my family in VT and NH and I always loved the bumps on the side of the trail. When I began competing in moguls at age 9, the sport of freestyle also included aerials and ballet skiing and I did not consider the impact a career in mogul skiing would have on my body. When I qualified for the US Ski Team, I was still playing soccer and running track. After I graduated high school, skiing was the only sport left in my life. I would say that I pursued moguls both by default and because I have always loved competing. It would be hard to pass up an opportunity to work towards an Olympic appearance, even if the sport comes with its shares of aches and pains. We spend a lot of time in the gym so that our bodies can better handle the impact of training and competing. You grew up in Vermont and I've read you consider yourself half Canadian. What percentage of you is Granite Stater?
I was born at the Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical center in Hanover, NH so my passports lists NH as my place of birth. I also graduated from Hanover High School and skied for the Waterville Valley Freestyle Ski Team. I am a student at Dartmouth College, my gym is in NH, and both of my parents currently live there. I am definitely a Vermonter, but NH has played a significant role in my life.Other than skiing, what you like to do when you are in New Hampshire?
I just picked up golf this spring, so that is an activity I love to do in NH. I also enjoy hiking Smarts and Cube Mountains.Do you ever do anything here for fun that's not sports-related?
Eating good food, preferably with friends and family is one of my favorite non-athletic activities. I love cooking, watching the Red Sox, and my brother's hockey games. Okay, I guess those activities are sports related, but I am not the one expending energy.With the 2014 Olympics in Sochi on the Black Sea, will you'll be studying Russian while you are at Dartmouth?
I will not be taking Russian at Dartmouth. I am required to take language courses, but I am going for French because I have a head start from years of elementary and high school french classes. Any other specific preparations for the 2014 Olympics under way?
Winning the 2014 Olympics is an important goal of mine, so most of the decisions I make are in preparation for those Games. I have been living at the Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid, NY. It is a fantastic place to train. I am working on increasing the difficulty of my airs by jumping on a trampoline and skiing down a ramp into a pool of water.Along with school and training you are doing some local promotions. How'd you get the sweet gig with Lovering Volvo?
Deb Moore used to work at Waterville Valley, where I trained. She now works at a ad agency, Clearly Creative, that was hired by Lovering Volvo and she thought that she could create an interesting ad campaign for them that included me. I was flattered and agreed that Volvo's AWD, safety, and ski and bike rack were a great fit for my training demands. The XC60 has been an amazing car and the Lovering family is very supportive. Bet you get called to do lots of speeches and motivational talks. What's your best line? Or if you don't want to give it away, what's your second best line?
During talks, I have a tendency to remind people that if you don't love the sport or career, it is not worth pursuing. A lot of satisfaction in life is cultivated by working towards a goal because you feel organically motivated and truly happy about your choices. Mostly, this statement is directed at parents because I fear that some kids are loosing their youth as a result of specializing in a sport at a really young age. You can be a successful athlete and still enjoy life! My parents were very supportive and certainly encouraging, but they never pressured me into anything. I kept my friends by staying in public school, playing other sports and skiing only on the weekends. Because my decisions were truly my own, my results have reflected the passion I feel. Name a sport, other than moguls, where you could totally beat Bode Miller.
Honestly, I don't think I have a chance against Bode in any athletic endeavor!How about non-athletic?
Maybe I could beat him in a cooking contest.
This article appears in the October 2011 issue of New Hampshire Magazine