Emily Cook, this month's featured athlete, is a two-time Olympian looking for a shot at a medal in Sochi. (Photo: Kirk Paulson)
Six-time U.S. champion and ex-gymnast Emily Cook grew up in suburban Boston and never let go of a dream to compete in the Olympics. Sidelined by injury after making the 2002 Olympic Team, Cook missed two World Cup seasons while rehabilitating her badly injured feet. She returned in the summer of 2004, competed in the winter of 2005 on the World Championships Team and finally achieved her Olympic dream at the 2006 games in Italy. She battled back to the top again in 2010, earning her second trip to the Olympics (finishing in 11th place) after missing the last two World Cup qualifiers because of a deeply bruised heel. Cook earned two more World Cup podiums in the 2012-13 season, bringing her career podium tally to a competitive nine. After capping the season ranked second overall in the aerials rankings, she’s coming into the Olympic season experienced but still hungry.
Name: Emily Cook
Sport: Freestyle Aerials
How/when did you decide you wanted to compete: I have always been an athlete and started both skiing and gymnastics as 4, but I decided I wanted to be an Olympian when I was 12.
Biggest accomplishment in your career so far: My biggest accomplishment has been coming back from a big injury in 2002. I had just qualified for my first Olympics right here in Park City and two weeks later, I landed a jump on the knoll, shattering both of my feet. After three years of getting healthy and strong, I was able to jump again and was so excited to qualify for the 2006 Olympic Winter Games. Walking into the Opening Ceremony of the Torino Olympic Games and representing Team USA with my teammates in Italy was definitely a defining moment in my career.
Goals for next season: I'm striving for my best performance next season and am making every moment count in my preparation for that. My goals are to, of course, qualify for the Sochi Olympic Winter Games, but also to come home with an Olympic medal. Also, I was second on the World Cup Grand Prix last season, the closest I have been to bringing home a World Cup Grand Prix globe. That would definitely top off the season.
Favorite snow destination: I love Utah, of course—Deer Valley and the Utah backcountry. I also find skiing in Europe pretty magical. My favorite trip was to Meirengen, Switzerland.
Favorite non-snow destination: Southern Utah, Belize and Africa.
Favorite food: Watermelon
If you weren't a professional athlete what would you be: I once had a secret dream to be on Broadway, but I couldn't really sing or dance. Karaoke is the closest I get to that now. I would also opt for ski bum or surfer.
Time you've been most scared in your life: I thought a bear was busting into my tent camping once. That was a sleepless night in the British Columbian wilderness. My first night scuba dive was also pretty terrifying.
Biggest vice: I love sweets and really can't have cookies in my house.
Advice to others who want to follow in your footsteps: Have a dream and then make a solid plan. After that, take every day one step at a time to fulfill on that dream. Be inspired by the big dream and motivated by and committed to the daily steps it takes to get there. Oh, and work hard, then play hard is what my dad always told me. Balance is key.