A day in the life of a YOG athlete

We caught up with Canadian Alpine skier Mackenzie Wood to find out what a typical day consists of at the Winter Youth Olympic Games (YOG) Lausanne 2020: from waking up and grabbing breakfast to competing on the slopes and winding down in the evening at the Youth Olympic Village.

Four days in and the YOG has already served up a plethora of thrilling winter sport, yet it can be easy to forget that the short period of time (a few minutes in some instances) that the young athletes spend competing in front of spectators and TV cameras constitutes just a small part of their daily routines as sportspeople.

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Mackenzie Wood CAN training on the rowing machine in the gym at the Youth Olympic Village / Jed Leicester for OIS

For all the excitement and attention that comes from competing for medals, it is often a momentary experience. As Mackenzie Wood explains — having competed in the first of five Alpine skiing events in the men’s super G last Friday — life as a young athlete is a 24/7 job.

“I was up at around 7am on the morning of the super G,” he says. “The first thing I did was go to breakfast. My diet doesn’t change whether I’m racing or training — I try to keep it similar.

“I usually get my protein by having a few eggs and a bit of meat — maybe some ham or bacon — as well as something with a lot of carbs; something that will last me throughout the day, like oatmeal. I also try to go for some fruit — just whatever is available. I’ll then pack some snack bars for the train journey.”

The train journey in question leads here to the Alpine venue, at the ski resort of Les Diablerets. Wood uses the commute to mentally prepare for the race.

“Lots of variables run through your head,” he says. “To distract myself, I try to stay away from skiing. I watch stuff that I’ve pre-downloaded on my phone just to keep my mind off it. I also listen to music closer to the time of the race.

“My parents are here in Lausanne, and I see them day-to-day. I don’t really talk to them a lot before the race. I tend to do my own thing and stay away, because I see them after my run. If I do see them before, it’s usually just a little ‘Good luck, ski fast and have fun’.”

It’s more or less non-stop for Wood once he reaches the mountain. His typical routine at the YOG has involved heading to the ski room to pick up his skis, boots and equipment before getting changed in the athletes’ tent. Then follows a course inspection, a few warm-up runs and finally the main event: the race.

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Mackenzie Wood CAN competes in Run 1 of the Alpine Skiing Men’s Giant Slalom at Les Diablerets Alpine Centre. / Simon Bruty for OIS

Once Wood has completed his run, it’s a case of returning to the athletes’ tent and grabbing a quick bite to eat. His last job on the mountain is to take off his gear and promptly store his skis in the ski room so as not to return to the Youth Olympic Village too late.

“My days have been pretty full at the YOG — leaving the hill at 4.30pm, and heading back to the Village, going straight to dinner after I’m back,” he says. “I try to eat as much as I can and make my meals as diverse as possible. It’s the same basis: a lot of protein, carbs and fats. It’s been a long day and I’ve burnt a lot of calories, so I eat two or three full plates of food every night for dinner just to make sure I’m fuelled up and recovering properly when I’m sleeping.

“Some days I’ve had to wake up early, so by the time I’ve got back and eaten dinner I’m quite tired. I go for a quick massage with the physio, and then by 8.30pm I usually shower, get into bed and wind down. The Village is great because there’s not too much crazy activity that’ll keep you up all night. I sometimes go to the Yodli Café or walk around a little bit, but by 9pm I’m shutting down and going to bed.”

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