Olympic Games pursuit of local athletes | Hannah Teter

The 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, are only weeks away with team selections expected by the end of January. Among those vying for spots to compete in the Winter Games are nearly two dozen Tahoe and Truckee area athletes.

Courtesy Alberta World Cup Academy

Olympic sport: Half Pipe Snowboard
Hometown: Belmont, Vt., & South Lake Tahoe
Resort team: Sierra-at-Tahoe

Half pipe snowboarder and South Lake Tahoe local Hannah Teter won a Gold Medal in the 2006 Olympics in Torino, Italy, then came back four years later to take a Silver in the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, Canada. Now, with the 2014 Olympics in Sochi fast approaching, she is competing to fly high above the half pipe again for the United States.

“This would be my third Olympics and the hardest thing about getting there is always the qualifying process,” she says. “The best girl snowboarders are from the USA, so we all battle it out for the few Olympic spots that the USA gets, and then once you actually get to the Olympics, it’s kinda of a cake walk. The key to being successful is keeping a positive motivated mindset.”

When Teter accomplished her goal of winning Gold at the 2006 Olympics, she decided to help others in need, and she’s been doing it ever since. First, she started the charity Hannah’s Gold. When she was growing up in Vermont her family would make maple syrup, so she decided it would be cool to sell maple syrup and have the proceeds go to help the village of Kirindon in Kenya get clean water, proper sanitation and the other essentials of life. Teter’s been to the village and has seen firsthand how just a little bit of money can make incredible strides in improving people’s lives. She added her snowboard contest winnings and organic sweatband sales to the effort.

“My goal from the beginning was that if I ever made it big I would reach out as much as humanly possible,” she said. “That’s the goal right now, to keep reaching out and touching other people and other places and helping create positive change.” Purchase maple syrup or make a donation at hannahsgold.com.

Hannah’s Gold was just the beginning.

“A few friends and I wanted to start something that everyone could feel like they were a part of so we decided on selling panties with a purpose. Every pair sold feeds a child for a month,” Teter says.

They are called Sweet Cheeks Panties and 40 percent of the sales proceeds go to Children’s International to feed and nourish children in extreme poverty. Purchase a pair at sweetcheekspanties.com.

If you look into the childhood of many a successful athlete, you will find they have older siblings or other role models who are active in the same sport. That is Hannah Teter’s story. She credits her four older brothers for her snowboarding success.

“I always tagged along and wanted to do everything they were doing. I’d watch them build mini snowboard parks in our backyard when I was around 5 and thought they were so cool,” she says.

She started snowboarding at 8, and at the age of 15 garnered a 4th place finish in her first World Cup half pipe. She has gone on to six World Cup victories in addition to her Olympic success.

Teter was born in Belmont, Vt., but she says, “I visited South Lake Tahoe a few times when I was younger and loved it so much that I bought my first house and moved there when I was 18. Two of my older brothers and I lived there and had some of the most fun days riding powder at Sierra. We would escape from the contest scene and just soul shred. That has helped me to keep in my professional groove.”

One of the reasons for the success of Teter’s charities is her powerhouse promotional efforts. She won the ESPY award for Best Action Sports Female in 2006. Then, after the 2010 Winter Olympics, Hannah graced the pages of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. She has been in two snowboard-oriented films – “First Descent” and “Snow Blind” – and perhaps best of all, Ben and Jerry’s created Hannah Teter’s Maple Blondie ice cream, with a portion of the proceeds going to Hannah’s Gold.

Hannah Teter will be doing her best to bring home the Gold for the United States in Sochi. But, she will not be doing just for herself, and her country, but also for the impact it will have on a small village in Africa, and on some hungry kids throughout the world.