I have become better at handling pressure. I’ve skied in Sochi, and then I’ve been a part of two other World Championship teams. ...All that experience has helped me go into these games with a lot better mental state. —Jared Goldberg
Editor's note: Deseret News reporter Amy Donaldson is in Pyeongchang, South Korea, covering the 2018 Winter Games. This is the fourth in a series of articles profiling Utahns competing in the Olympics.
PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — While the Olympics may not be the most iconic competition for alpine skiers like Jared Goldberg, the Skyline High alum said the attention of the world, especially U.S. fans, creates an emotional energy that is tough to match.
“The Olympics are not the biggest races of the year for us,” said the Holladay native who is competing in his second Olympics beginning with Sunday’s downhill race. “It’s a big race, and the public, especially people in the United States, put a lot more weight on for the Olympics, like it’s this big, different race. But in downhill, we have a few other races like Kitzbuhel (Austria) or Wengen (Switzerland) that are classic races where you’ll see way more people.”
He said athletes race the Hahnenkamm in Kitzbuhel, one of the most challenging, feared and prestigious courses on the World Cup circuit, in front of about 70,000 fans, and they battle the longest downhill course in the world in Wengen’s Lauberhorn in front of 40,000 screaming spectators.
“So going to Sochi (in 2014), there was just this small little bleacher section, and it was kind of different,” he said. “But I know the Olympics is way more talked about, especially in the U.S.”
Goldberg, who was the youngest member of the men’s Alpine team in 2014, will ski at least two, possibly three races in Pyeongchang. His Olympic strategy is to ignore the hype as much as possible.
“Our sport suddenly becomes a bigger thing, but I just try to block all of that out and just focus on what I can do,” Goldberg said. “Now I’ve been around the block a bit, I feel like I kind of know what it’s all about. I have experience and I’ll take that with me.”
Born in Boston, Goldberg was basically raised on the ski slopes of Utah. Both of his parents were ski instructors, and he joined the Snowbird Ski Club at four. Just 22 in Sochi, he finished 11th in the combined and 19th in the giant slalom. He will compete in both the downhill and combined for sure, and possibly the Super G.
“I’m a good Super G skier, but it’s been a really difficult year with weather,” he said. “It will be up to the coaches.”
Now 26, Goldberg said the experience of skiing those iconic courses on the World Cup circuit for the last three years has given him knowledge and confidence.
“I have become better at handling pressure,” he said. “I’ve skied in Sochi, and then I’ve been a part of two other World Championship teams. All that experience has helped me go into these games with a lot better mental state.”
A skier who was more interested in goofing off with his friends than winning medals until he was about 15, Goldberg said it was seeing the men’s Combined and women’s Super G races that started him thinking dreaming about being a part of the Olympics.
“I was a young ski racer on the Snowbird team, and I had never seen anything like that,” he said. “I didn’t really know what (racing) could amount to. I just liked to ski with my friends, train and go do races. Seeing that there was somewhere to take it, that it was a real profession, it was really cool. I wanted to be there. I started thinking, ‘I think I can get there.’”
His journey to the Olympics includes realizing a series of smaller dreams that began with making the U.S. Ski Team at age 19.
“When I was in high school, I started doing pretty well in international races,” he said. “I started to think, ‘I can go somewhere.’ Then I began to get the tools to make that dream a reality. But the first big goal I had was to make the team.”
Every step up has been challenging and invigorating in a myriad of ways. And while he’s daydreamed a bit about winning Olympic medals, he’s also spent a lot of time dreaming about winning those classic Alpine races on the World Cup circuit.
Fellow Utah alpine skier Steve Nyman, who made his fourth Olympics team just days before injuring his knee, has been a friend and mentor to Goldberg. The Sundance native mentioned Goldberg as one of the rising stars of the team.
"Other Olympians to watch," Nyman said during a pre-games press conference, "I really like the momentum Jared Goldberg and Bryce Bennett have started accruing. I think they're skiing very well, and they've shown consistency on the World Cup Tour this year."
Goldberg marched in the Opening Ceremonies and said that while the skiing may not be the most challenging or iconic, the atmosphere of the Games is unique and inspiring.
“Going to Opening Ceremonies was a really great experience in Sochi,” Goldberg said. “It’s a cool event, and the whole world is there participating and watching. It’s pretty easy to be up on the hill and to forget what you’re doing.”
It was, in fact, seeing the Opening Ceremonies in Salt Lake City in 2002 that made Goldberg yearn to be one of those athletes marching behind Old Glory.
“I couldn’t believe how cool it was being a part of that,” he said. “Fast forward to now, to be able to be out there walking with Team USA is pretty cool.”