Marco Sullivan, and the music that gets him up to speed

Marco Sullivan speeds down the course at Beaver Creek, Colo.

Marco Sullivan leans toward classic rock when he’s about to begin a race, but selections from Bro Hymn and Pennywise also get him revved up in the start house.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The top World Cup skiers are competing this weekend in Val Gardena, Italy, in the super-G and downhill, and in the giant slalom in nearby Alta Badia. American hopes are riding on the skis of Marco Sullivan — who raced to third in the downhill at Lake Louise (his first podium finish in nearly four years) — and Ted Ligety in the super-G. Before Sullivan departed for Europe, he talked with Chris Lyman about his racing life and music. The interview may be found at Some highlights:

Question: After a such great start (at Lake Louise), what other races do you have circled?
Answer: We just arrived in Val Gardena, Italy. This is our first stop on the European leg of the tour. I have twice been fourth place here and am itching to get up on the podium. We also have World Championships this year in Schladming, Austria. All ski races in Austria are big but the World Champs is going to be like the Super Bowl. I heard that they’ve already sold 20,000 tickets and the race is still almost two months away!

Q: Speed events are your specialty. What goes through your mind at 90 miles per hour?
A: To be honest, once I’m on the course I just kind of let my body take over. We train nearly year-round to be comfortable at those high speeds so when it’s race time I just zone out and try to get to the bottom as fast as I can. I love racing because it’s just you against the clock and you instantly know how it went when you see the reaction of the crowd as you cross the finish line. That’s when I come back to reality. Sometimes I can barely remember what just happened on the course.

Q: Standing in the start house facing down a course, what song would you dial up to 11?
A: I love classic rock but lately have been getting a little bit rowdier in my music selection. At Lake Louise I had Pennywise, Bro Hymn in my head. It’s nice to get a little fired up in the start house.

Q: Which one of your teammates has the best taste in music?
A: The young guys on the team usually have the best playlists, I think because they invest the most time in searching out new music. Wily Maple, a downhiller from Aspen, Colorado, probably gets my vote for best music.

Q: What about the European pro skiers? Thumbs up or down to their music tastes?
A: The Euro skiers are infamous for latching onto a handful of cheesy American pop songs and playing them on repeat for the entire winter. Or they’ll make a dance remix of a legit American classic song. On the radio yesterday we heard an electronic remix version of John Denver’s “Country Roads.” Seriously?

Q: The crazier lot: pro skiers or snowboarders?
A: I don’t think the differences between these two genres are as great as people may think. Living the dream and sliding mountains is a crazy lifestyle no matter what you have strapped on your feet.

Marco Sullivan listens to The Cars, Pink Floyd and Bruce Springsteen. Discover the other artists on his Rhapsody playlist

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