Bella Andreini adjusts her goggles and skis one last time while waiting for the buzzer that will send her screaming down Copper Mountain.
She'll reach about 75 mph during her two-mile journey through tightly lined slalom gates and corridors of pine trees at the USA Ski Team Speed Center on Copper Mountain, about 70 miles west of Denver.
Since she could walk, Andreini has been on skis pushing herself to go faster, take tighter turns and pursue Olympic glory.
Alpine skiing is not for the weak at heart, and the 17-year-old Park City native has a level of dedication reserved for those elite skiers with the skill level to navigate treacherous runs on thin skis at breakneck speeds.
"There's an intensity that can't be found anywhere else," she said. "That moment before I head down the mountain is my favorite place to be."
It's more than an uncompromising will to do what it takes to win that makes Andreini one of the top skiers in the nation. It's her ability to prioritize all the demands placed on her. The Rowland Hall student doesn't waste a single moment of her day. Between time spent in the gym, homework, studying film and most important, training on the mountain, Andreini is a driven student-athlete with her eyes toward the Olympics.
"It's more than wanting to do my best it's a desire to be excellent at this point in my life," she said. "I want to experience every aspect of the sport."
As a member of Rowland Hall's Rowmark Ski Academy, Andreini acknowledges that she is fortunate for the opportunity to excel on the mountain and in the classroom. Teachers at Rowland Hall work with her schedule, and she responds by being proactive with her education.
"She wants to do well and backs it up with a lot of hard work," said Patrick Purcell, Andreini's coach. "That's why on race day, she is vicious."
Andreini will compete in more than 45 races this season. Each race requires a new strategy and intense concentration, which she loves.
"Skiing is nothing more than getting your body and mind to agree to do the same thing," she said. "It takes so much work to get to that place and letting the moment take you. That's why I love this sport."
• Andreini wants to continue her pursuit of a spot on the U.S. Ski Team by going to school at the University of Colorado, University of Utah or Montana State.
• In the process of recovering from a shoulder injury, she developed an interest in pursuing a medical degree.