Name: Bryce Bennett
Hometown hill: Squaw Valley-Alpine Meadows, Calif.
Olympic Event: Downhill and combined
Known for: Bennett can never be accused of not thinking big: “When I was 8, I had a goal of winning all the Olympic events.” He joined the U.S. Ski Team in 2011, and came into his own in 2016; in Val Gardena, he moved from 57th to 6th—1.04 seconds behind the winner. In the last four races of that season, he landed in the top 10.
He rolls out of bed and heads to the hallway for a 30-minute warmup.
When he feels like he’s warmed up and not going to blow his back out skiing, Bennett grabs a coffee and breakfast, eating a couple pieces of bacon and five eggs, sunnyside up. He’ll also down some fruit. “As a downhiller, you want to be as heavy as possible,” the 6’7”, 215-pound racer says.
The team heads to the slopes on a snowmobile, the sun yet to crest the horizon. “It’s still too dark to ski so we just have to watch an incredible sunrise every morning. It’s rough.”
Five downhill training runs, the ultimate wakeup call. “They’re pretty intense,” he says. “They are like 10 gates of steeps, making huge turns at 68-70 miles an hour. Right off in the morning.” Clifbar Shot Bloks and water keep Bennett hydrated and energized.
He stops for lunch—usually about 10 oz. of meat and some pasta to refuel. He’s tried out more refined diets, such as Paleo, but found that with his heavy travel, it was tough to stick to. “I had to change my diet to the See Food Diet: You see food, you eat it.” After lunch, Bennett heads to play some Tony Hawk with his teammates on the Nintendo 64.
Depending on the day’s focus, Bennett gets another workout in, usually lifting or recovery.
Watches video of that morning’s training runs with the coaches.
Meeting with his gear technician. The technicians spend more time with the athletes than the coaches do. The technician will take snow temps at the top, middle and bottom of the tracks; he logs the data, and keeps a spreadsheet on every ski. “At our level in skiing you have to have a technician; he is your No. 1 guy. He makes a lot of the calls on which skis are going to be the best for race day,” Bennett says.
More downtime—cards or video games. Why so much downtime? “The training sessions we do on-hill are pretty fatiguing. You’re mentally focused on every single run. You’re putting out max effort. I wish I could ski all day but I just can’t. You take four downhill runs maybe five and you’re just smoked. If you’re not focused, it can end poorly.”
Team meeting. On the circuit, they’ll talk about track specifics, sections you need to ski well to be competitive, and so on, so that “in that first training run we can maximize our time and get as much out of it as possible.”
Ping pong, a movie, and straight to bed.