It was four years ago that Dara Howell emerged onto the global platform at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics. Only 19 with fiery determination, she won a Gold medal in freestyle skiing making everyone in Canada, especially in her hometown Huntsville, Ont., extremely proud. Now, 23 after recently competing in the Olympics again, Howell sat down with INBETWEEN to talk about her experience at the Olympics, how she keeps her motivation strong and what she thinks about failure.
Qualifying for the Olympics at such a young age is exciting for any athlete, however Howell admits that she lost sight of her goals after Sochi 2014.
“I think when I was 19, I was just so in awe and kind of oblivious to everything. I was just going out and skiing every day and that’s what I did during Sochi and then post-Sochi I kind of lost track of my passion. So, it’s just been getting my passion back and never giving up on myself and it’s been really fun.”
Gaining experience when she was young really helped her prepare for the 2018 Olympics, where she felt more present, but also knew how to prepare herself in case the results weren’t what she expected.
THE TRUTH ABOUT FAILURE
As an athlete, Howell says her perception of failure has changed—especially after Sochi 2014 where she said she felt as though she let herself down. Even though she brought home the gold, her lack of ambition afterwards led to an emotional spiral, making it difficult to believe in herself for the 2018 Olympics.
“Being OK with failing again, while also kind of just being OK with the unknown has given me this whole new sense of, “it’s OK to fail, it’s OK to get up and try again. It kind of just changes the way you think about things. I think that’s where I’m at right now. That’s why I appreciate it so much right now and I’m so grateful – I feel like it’s changed me for the good.”
Dara uses this motivation to keep herself strong.
“It keeps me hungry and wanting to push myself. That’s why I got into this sport: to push my limits and to try. I think that’s what is interesting about our sport is that you can go out every single day to push yourself to the max and I think that’s what intrigues me most.”
Though she was able to motivate herself and remind herself of her passion for skiing, she still felt a lot of pressure coming back to the Olympics. Because, as a Gold Medalist, she put pressure on herself to win again.
“I think as an athlete you put a lot of pressure on yourself to perform at your best all the time. I’m not going to lie, I did feel a lot of pressure this time but it’s pressure that I put on myself. I think for me, I just really wanted to come out and do my best and, at the end of the day, that is what I did, so I think that I’m constantly learning from that. All you can do is your best – give it everything that you have, and you never know what might happen – anything is possible!”
Dara is also an ALWAYS #LikeAGirl Ambassador, which is a campaign to help encourage teenage girls to keep their confidence up and to do things Like A Girl.
“My advice to young girls would be honestly to just try, fail, learn, and keep going because you learn so much from failing and trying and just really being easy on yourself. Don’t get discouraged, and instead find the little positive in that failure to make it a good thing. Just keep going.”
GOLDEN ADVICE FOR PARENTS
“Just encourage them to try again. Encouraging them that everyone fails in some way in life and that it’s OK. I think the biggest thing that parents can do is just be there and give their child as much support as they can to keep going and to help them to find that passion.”