Only a senior in high school when she was named to the U.S. Ski and Snowboard team, Telluride’s Keaton McCargo, 22, now ranks eighth in the world and looks to raise her profile even further with an Olympic medal in PyeongChang.

“I don’t like to stray too far from the mountain,” McCargo said prior to the Winter Games. “I spend my time mountain biking and going on hikes with my family.”

Growing up in Telluride, McCargo started skiing “as soon as she could walk,” and followed her sister into the sport, “completely falling in love with skiing” at the age of eight, telling, “At the time, the Ski Club had an all-mountain group so you could try out everything. I chose mogul skiing to continue further, because that was what my sister was doing and I admired her.”

“It brought me outside everyday. It showed me the way of the mountains. It taught me to be a free spirit,” McCargo explained. “Mogul skiing is a very complicated sport. You can never ski a perfect mogul run. It is impossible, but that’s what makes it interesting. It is not about just speed, tricks, or turns, it is about what you can accomplish with all of them together, and that is pretty cool. I went to the Telluride Mountain School from first grade through high school; this was very fortunate because my teachers allowed me to pursue my interest in skiing. My teachers and mentors supported me, making it much easier to ski and go to school.”

A three-time FIS champ as a junior, McCargo broke through in 2016, claiming her first U.S. championship at Steamboat Springs and then following that up by being selected to the national team for the 2017 world championships and this February’s Olympic Games.

While skiing is McCargo’s focus, it’s hardly her only pursuit. “Not only do I plan to keep developing as an athlete, I also want to continue to develop my love and interest for food and art. I have started a couple of business enterprises to support my passion for art and food — and to support my costs to pursue the Olympic goals I have in skiing,” she said. “Traveling the world with an adventurous stomach is a great way to learn about the culture you are immersed in.”

An aspiring painter whose works can be seen here, McCargo finds the relative peace and quiet of putting paint to canvas is relaxing; a balance to the intense nature of world-class skiing and training, something that she knows awaits her in Pyeongchang. “The Olympics are the same as a World Cup in terms of competition, but different in a sense that they are on a massive world stage, and the pressure is that much more. I will be physically training the same, but mentally preparing for the media storm that lies ahead in Korea.”