Three-time Olympian Heidi Voelker has her hands full these days, because even during her time racing at the World Cup level, she kept an eye to the future. That meant great relationships with her sponsors and keeping her love for racing at the forefront. After spending twelve years on the US Ski Team, Voelker is now happily busy as a NASTAR pacesetter and ambassador of skiing at Deer Valley Resort in Park City, Utah, a pacesetter each year at the NASTAR finals, and a mother of two young ski racers.
“This is my eighteenth winter at Deer Valley! I average skiing about five, sometimes six days a week,” Voelker says. She isn’t complaining, however. For her, since Deer Valley was a sponsor of hers while she was racing, it was an easy choice to work with the resort when she decided to retire from competition. With the go ahead from fellow Olympian Stein Erickson, who began the ski ambassador program at Deer Valley, Voelker was brought on board.
We asked her to share a few insights on the ski racing scene then and now, life after racing, and just how an image of her skiing made its way onto Utah’s iconic ‘Ski Utah’ license plates.
From 1980 on, the US has been strong as a ski team with depth. But when you get to the Olympics, anything can happen! It’s only one event.
The pressure on skiers is the same from the World Cup to the Olympics, but the Olympics is such a bigger stage. For our country, not many people know about skiing, but they know about it in the Olympics. Winning the World Championships is more worthy as skier, because it shows the consistency of your skiing over a year, but the Olympics are still like the Superbowl for our sport.
The overall strength of the ski team hasn’t changed much since my Olympics, but people seem to know who the skiers are more now. We didn’t have the opportunities that the athletes have now to promote themselves, or sponsors like Red Bull and Monster Energy.
The conditions in Sochi this year might be frustrating as an athlete, but it is also out of your hands as an athlete. You just have to eliminate excuses or negativity, hope it’s your lucky day and the stars align for you.
When you are in the moment as an athlete, and you don’t achieve your goals, you think you’ve failed. But after I stopped racing and I watched the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, I realized racing fans are proud to see you represent your country, and cheering you on no matter what.
When I watch the Olympics now, men’s and women’s downhill is the big event, and I like watching the GS too, but this year, I was really looking forward to watching [the Olympic debut of] women’s ski jumping. That was pretty rad.
My image on Utah’s license plate was pure luck! The plate designer got my picture from a newspaper story on skiing in Deer Valley. He called me up and asked if I would approve the use of the picture, and then the legislature passed it, and here we are! It’s still kind of weird to see it everyone on the plates.
Want to race with and meet Heidi Voelker? Register for the 2014 Nature Valley NASTAR National Championships!