When a downhill skier flashes down a mountain, they can reach speeds of 80 to 90mph.
The high-speed chase is all at once risky and exhilarating, requiring the athlete to have lightning-fast reflexes and nerves of steel. It’s part of the reason downhill (or alpine) skiing is one of the most anticipated Winter Olympic sports.
If you’re watching the 2018 Winter Olympics commence in PyeongChang, South Korea on Feb. 9, think of this while you witness the high-speed races unfold: In an event that can be won or lost by a mere hundredth of a second, can something as little as a moment of doubt cost a win?
We consulted with the fastest skiers on the U.S. Men’s Alpine Ski Team—e.g. Travis Ganong, Bryce Bennett, Jared Goldberg—to find out what they think about when they’re careening down a mountain at top speeds.