Patrick Deneen and his father sit at their kitchen table in the family home outside Cle Elum, going over video of World Cup freestyle skiing events from the just-finished season. And going over it and over it and over it again.
They’re doing it for our camera of course, but you can tell by the way their eyes are drilled into the computer screen that they are also watching, frame-by-frame, for any hint, any tip, any un-noticed advantage that might add a fraction of a second or clarity of form to a championship moguls run. Every effort, every video review is aimed forwarded, targeting Sochi, Russia, and the next Winter Olympics in 2014.
“We’re fine tuning right now. Sochi? We’ve been looking at that for the last two years,” said Pat Deneen, Sr. “This past year was just a dry run.”
The younger Deneen, a former World Champion and former Olympian, had a tremendous year. He didn’t win any races, but he picked up five silver medals and three bronze, finishing as the #1 American in the sport and with the #3 ranking in the world. Father and son are both encouraged by his consistency and steady improvement from the beginning of the grueling five-month World Cup season to the end.
Patrick has been doing this for years. It’s a full-time job - a job that costs a lot of money and a job he still lives for. He and his father joke about the expense, nearly $100,000 a year.
“It’s pretty close to that. It depends on whether we want to live in the car or not,” said dad with a laugh.
Patrick laughs too. “We usually do end up living in the car! We definitely slum it!” he said.
He’s been on skis since he was 11 months old, and chasing his dreams of freestyle Olympic gold and world championships is a full-time job. It’s a job he loves doing.
“I love showing up at the top of the course. You’ve got 20 seconds and you better nail it or you’re off the podium. It’s so cool showing up and having that type of pressure and just performing right over the top of it,” he said.
He grins as he says it, dismissing the hype and frantic pace of the Olympics as “just another race.” Ten months out from the games in Sochi, he’s confident.
“I don’t worry,” he said, still smiling. “If I ski the way I am skiing right now, I’ll be fine.”