Nov. 14, 2005
Rush Hawkins took a break from his busy schedule - being a two-time defending national champion skiier is hard work - to sit down with Betsy Devine of the UMass Media Relations Office to talk about being at UMass, what he likes to do in his free time, and what slopes he's been cruising around on lately.
Q: How long have you been skiing for?
A: Well I'm 21 now, and I have been skiing since I was 1, so 20 years.
Q: Do you have any superstitions about skiing?
A; I try not to have them when it comes to skiing. So I guess that is a superstition in itself. Like putting my boot on the right way, I don't want to think like that before every race. So, yeah, I try not to have any superstitions.
Q: How does it feel to be recognized as the top skier on the team? What about National Champion? Feel any pressure now?
A: That's always fun to be recognized as the top skier. In regards to the National Champion, I have never been asked for an autograph before I became one. Now they ask me and I'm like, you don't want my autograph, do you? There is always pressure to perform. I always look to the faster guys and then try to beat them. Last year I did that. This year I will try to again.
Q: Ever think about trying out for the Olympic Ski Team?
A: With skiing it is different than any other sport. If you do track, you run some races, break records and you are on. With skiing you have to hold a certain spot on the US Ski Team for up to several years and even if you do that, it is still hard to get on the Olympic team. Plus it is expensive. If the opportunity is there I can't say I'd pass it up.
Q: I see you went to Switzerland this summer, how was that?
A: It was awesome, there were some times that there was too much snow and they wouldn't let us on the glacier for the day. That was actually my second time over there with the same coach. It's always a lot of fun traveling to ski.
Q: What are some other places that you have skied?
A: I've been a lot of places. Italy, France, Austria, Switzerland, all over Colorado, British Columbia, and Alberta, Canada and Idaho, we went there last year for Nationals and I was really impressed with it.
Q: What is your most memorable skiing moment?
A: Last year at the U.S.C.S.A. Nationals, I was the last guy down the slope that had a chance to place, and when I got to the bottom, nobody would tell me anything. But usually my dad will stand off to the side because he gets nervous and he was standing on a stump the whole day, but when I looked over he was off of it so I knew that it was a good sign. Reading all of the news articles after I won and seeing the news reports was great. It was the first time that an American had swept Nationals in 10 years, that's what they say anyways, which is awesome to me. Also, I think I would like to say that listening to the band play while we do our dryland training in the fall while the sun goes down is "sweet", it makes us feel like we're soldiers in training to battle the cold winter months.
Q: What about when you aren't skiing, what do you like to do?
A: I like to bike, water ski, hang out with friends and I know it is going to sound weird but I like to hang out in the woods. Usually I have something productive to do in the woods but I just like being there. I live in Shelburne, which is just 20 or 30 minutes away and when I go home I am basically in the woods.
Q: Did you play any other sports in high school?
A: Yes, I played lacrosse and it was really a toss up between playing that here or skiing, but I think so far I made the right decision. And I played soccer a little bit.
Q: Do you like to go to any of the games on campus?
A: I love to go to the hockey games because we work out with them and I got to know some of them. It's just fun to be able to cheer for one person, in particular knowing that you were just hanging out with them that week. I also go to the lacrosse games, because I know the coach pretty well, and my best friend and his family love to go to the games so it is fun to go with them and watch.
Q: What is your favorite aspect about UMass?
A: I really like the Greenhouses up by Franklin Dining Commons; I think they're really cool. And I like practicing under the lights at Garber Field, when we have dryland practice. I love listening to Southwest going nuts while the Red Sox are playing or seeing the people walking back from the library or from classes looking at us like we're crazy.
Q: What about Amherst itself?
A:I love the restaurants in Amherst, especially Judies. But I really like driving through town at one in the morning and just looking at the sidewalks crammed with people. I remember doing that in high school driving back from the movies and just seeing everyone out on the sidewalks.
Q: Favorite Movies?
A: Boondock Saints, and really anything Jim Carrey, except Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, that one is no good.
Q: What about music? What do you listen to, to pump you up before a race?
A: Well some of the guys listen to metal or hard stuff, but I find that just makes me angry like I want to hit something. Lately I have been listening to this music that is in free-style skiing movies. Its this kind of laid back hip hop that just makes you feel good, so everything just seems to flow.