A Swiss freestyle skier, Sarah Hoefflin knows a thing or two about facing challenges head on and the importance of preparation: not only physically, but mentally too. Winning an Olympic gold medal might well have been a career highlight for the 30-year-old but that doesn’t mean she doesn't have a host of other ambitions. Here she tells us about how she deals with stress, why visualisation is key and where else she’d like to venture on her skis.
Photo of Celine and her father
Photo credit: Mark Chase

How important is mental preparation in your sport and what are some ways you deal with stress?

“The mental aspect in freestyle skiing is incredibly important. I believe that having the right mental attitude accounts for roughly half of the success in my sport, whilst the other half can be attributed to skill. Because of that, I’m committed to solid mental preparation and stress management.

Currently, I’m working with a mental coach who helps me with stress during competitions and training sessions and also in preparing for difficult tricks. We work a lot on visualisation and figuring out ways to make me feel more comfortable, less apprehensive and more confident when I’m trying to land a new trick on the snow. In order to tackle competition nerves, I try to put myself into a mental bubble and avoid looking at what other competitors are doing. This helps me to focus on my own tricks. It also helps me to remain calm and concentrate on my own skiing.”
Photo credit: Will Derrick

What does your training look like over the coming months?
Do you take part in any other activities besides skiing and snow park training?

“Preparing my body physically is essential to handle the impact that I routinely put it through when I’m skiing in the park; heavy landings and crashes are a big part of my sport.

When I’m not in the snow park, I really enjoy cycling, climbing and walking in the mountains in my beautiful home of Chamonix. I spend a lot of time on my road bike and in the gym during May, June and July, in order to get as strong as possible physically before I start training on the snow from August. As the winter season is now in full swing, I mainly do recovery cycles, some easy workouts and lots of stretching in between ski days.”

How do you tackle nutrition when you’re training?

“Whilst I don’t have a specific diet, I do make sure that I’m eating healthily. Eating well balanced meals each day ensures that I always have enough energy for my training sessions. After long days in the snow park or big sessions in the gym, I replenish my body with proteins, vitamins and amino acids. I also drink plenty of water to avoid getting dehydrated.”

What do the Olympic Games represent for you in your career?

“The Olympic Games are the holy grail of my sport and participating in this world-leading event represents a huge accomplishment for any athlete. Progressing in my sport, representing my country on the world stage and inspiring young girls to take up freestyle skiing are the most valuable objectives for me.”
Photo credit: Florent Schneider

Do you have any tips on how to relax and stay calm?

“For me, the more relaxed I feel, the better I ski. I try to block out any distractions by keeping myself to myself during contests, which helps me to stay Zen and focused. When I get home, I try to relax by stretching and watching films to keep my mind off skiing as much as possible.”
Photo credit: Florent Schneider

Do you have any other major competitions coming up?

“My schedule this year is incredibly hectic. It’s packed with contests and filming opportunities, some of these are after the Olympics. At the end of the ski season, I’m planning on going out deep into nature and doing a few weeks of ski touring in order to decompress.”
Photo credit: Florent Schneider

Can you tell us a bit more about your film Moitié‑Moitié?

"Moitié-Moitié is my very first ski movie which I filmed last February and released online in November this year. The film was shown around the world at various ski film festivals and alongside the Faction Skis’ movie Roots, which was broadcast at cinemas all around the world.

The idea behind my three-minute film was to create a fun edit for others to watch and get stoked on skiing. It was inspired by JP Auclair's street segment in Nelson, Canada, and Tom Wallisch's film Imagination.”
Photo credit: Rogue Otter Studios

What are your ambitions after the Olympic Games?

“My ambition is to keep progressing and pushing my sport. I want to maintain my place as a top female freeski athlete. After the Olympics, I plan to keep skiing and share my passion for it with other young and up-and-coming athletes. I’d also like to film some more ski segments and to present my work at future ski film festivals.”

Do you have any tips for people who’d like to improve their skiing?

“The number one tip to improve your ski performance is to ski with friends who are better than you. Don't feel bad about asking others for tips. Also watch videos online to gather knowledge.”