Laurenne Ross is bringing her 120 film camera, a Polaroid, a GoPro and her smartphone to take photos while she competes at the Olympics in South Korea this month. She says she also has a sketch pad with her at all times.
“I know I’m not going to have these opportunities when I’m done skiing to visit places that I’m visiting right now, and it’s pretty awesome to be able to capture that on camera,” Ross said.
Ross, a 29-year-old alpine skier and art major at the University of Oregon, is representing the United States at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang, South Korea. She competed in downhill skiing, combined and super-G in the 2014 Sochi Winter Games, seven World Cups and four World Championships, all while aiming to get her degree that, at this rate, she’ll earn in 2022 at age 33.
“It’s tough, and it’s even difficult to go for one term a year because we typically ski some time during that term,” Ross told the Emerald via Skype.
Ross only attends the University of Oregon for one term a year, during spring, while still training to keep fit for the season. Oftentimes, the team has camp in the middle of May so Ross has to miss some of the camp or some of school — or sometimes all of one.
“To me it’s so nice to have that change of lifestyle and to be able to step into the shoes of a student and kind of live that student life,” Ross said. “I get to be creative and get out of the super intensive lifestyle of being a professional athlete.”
Born in Edmonton, Alberta in Canada, Ross moved to Klamath Falls, Oregon, at age 7 where she grew up and went to high school. Late in high school, she decided she would try racing professionally. So after graduation, she moved to Bend, Oregon, to be closer to her “home mountain” — Mt. Bachelor.
When she was in Utah training with the U.S. ski team, she would take classes at Westminster College in Salt Lake City before her move to UO in 2012.
“I love the feeling of spring in Eugene, so I’m really stoked that I started going there,” Ross said. “In Utah, I just didn’t really feel at home, and I feel so much more at home in Eugene.”
As an architecture and allied arts major, Ross has experimented with a multitude of arts, ranging from ceramics to printmaking to photography, which Ross says she’s most passionate about.
Ross says her favorite event right now is super-G because its slower paced and is less harsh on her knees — Ross suffered a severe knee injury last year.
“In downhill, sometimes you’re just going down straight and picking up speed the whole time,” Ross said. “I’ve just been a little bit scared of that since my injury.”
As far as her goals for the Olympics, there is no objective goal. She just wants to remember the experience of being there.
“I just like to try to ski as fast as I possibly can and execute my plan. If I do that and I have a really good run, I could walk away with a medal,” Ross said. “I want to be able to embrace it and record that somehow; you know, take my camera around and make some memories.”
Follow Shawn Medow on Twitter @ShawnMedow