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How He Got There: Gus Kenworthy, Olympian Free-Style Skier

Name: Gus Kenworthy 
Age: 26
Job Title and Description: Professional Freestyle Skier
Website: GusKenworthy.com 
Twitter Handle: @GusKenworthy
Instagram Handle: @GusKenworthy

What does your current role entail? Is there such a thing as a typical day?  

GK: When I’m training, I’ll wake up at 7 a.m., eat breakfast and then ski from about 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Then I’ll head to the gym for a cool down, have a meal, do some work on my computer and catch up with family and friends. A typical, non-training day for me revolves around food! I wake up, have coffee and a protein shake, and then at some point in the day go to the gym for an hour or two depending on the workout. Then, of course, I need more food to refuel and then I’ll relax a bit. 

What is the best part of your job? 

GK: The best part of my job is the people I’ve met along the way. I’m very lucky that I can travel around world with some of my best friends. Even if skiing isn’t a lifelong career, the connections and friends I’ve made along the way are lifelong. 

What was your first entry-level job and how did you get it?

GK: My very first job was working at an ice cream shop in high school for two years. I just went in and asked if they were hiring. I would work after soccer practice during the school week, and then on weekends and over the summer. I then signed my first pro contract at 16, and started traveling for training and events and sponsors from there. 

What words of wisdom do you find most valuable? 

GK: My mom always taught me to follow my dreams and be the best I can be. She also reminded me to never get caught up worrying about what other people think of me. Anyone who loves me does so unconditionally. That’s why I’m so happy that my mom and I are part of P&G’s Love Over Bias campaign, which is all about seeing people through a mom’s eyes and not judging based on what they look like or what backgrounds they come from.

What is one mistake you made along the way and what did you learn from it?

GK: I’ve made many mistakes along the way, whether it was training, runs at competitions, mistakes in relationships. But none of them are things I would change because every mistake is a learning opportunity. The only mistake is repeating the mistake and not learning or growing from it.

How do you find and maintain confidence in the competitive atmosphere you work in?

GK: When competitions are going well, it’s very easy to have confidence and use that as momentum going into the next one. When they aren’t going well, it’s harder to find that confidence, but those are the moments where you pick yourself up and remember what you are trying to achieve and use that as motivation. 

What has been the most surreal moment of your career thus far?

GK: The most surreal moments of my career have been opportunities that I’ve gotten because of my skiing and getting a medal at the Olympics, like hosting the New Year’s Eve ball drop in Times Square.

What advice would you give to a 20-something with similar aspirations?

GK: I would encourage anyone to follow their dreams and make sure whatever they are dreaming of doing is for the right reasons. If you’re having fun and trying to be the best you can be, you’ll find success. Also, sometimes this is hard to believe, but it does get better and there is a light at the end of the tunnel. When you can come to terms with yourself, embrace yourself and love yourself, it makes it easier for others to do the same.

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Claire Biggerstaff is a senior at Davidson College where she's pursuing a major in English. Since her sophomore year, she's been heavily involved with Her Campus and has written for her school's chapter, interned with Her Campus Media, and eventually became the Editor in Chief of her home chapter. Her work as also appeared on publications like Babe.net and The Odyssey. When she's not researching news stories or holding editing workshops with her writers, you can find her enjoying an episode of The X-Files and thinking about how much she loves autumn.