The Journey of Meehyun
Born in South Korea (SK), raised in the US and competing for SK in the Winter Olympics, one whirlwind life journey, we connect with Meehyun to talk zen, mountain elements and nomadic life adventures.
We met Meehyun in the Queenstown trampoline park during a session that included many failed front-flip attempts and ended with the inevitable crooked back (my back!). There was no hint that Meehyun was a soon to be Olympian, just a vibrant ball of positive fumes bursting to chat about us (not her). Over the latter part of the NZ winter season we got to know Meehyun well and wanted to introduce our community to an inspirational young lady who flows nothing but positive vibes.
Q: Where does your connection and passion for the mountains come from?
In my younger years I spent a lot of time in the mountains, bringing Lucky (my dog) along for the ride most of the time. Exploring and creating those memories helped to build a certain level of comfort and belonging when your in the mountains. Those years built my connection and passion for mountain life and everything that it brings.
Q: What are the elements of mountain life that fuel your fire?
Mountain life has always brought a smooth quietness to my life. The simple act of skiing or just being among the big white rocks eases the soul and throws happiness my way. But mountain life is about the community as much as anything, friends, good times, each season brings a new set of memories from all the mountain loving folk. We are all here for the same reasons, so that common thread means you find friends where-ever you go!
Q: SK by nature and American by nurture, how do you feel your mixed cultured background feeds your sense of adventure?
I actually feel its less about where I'm from or where I was raised, but instead the sense of wonder is coming from within, an internal fire and something I'm always keen to keep feeding.
Q: How do you keep balance with your Zen while living the nomadic competition lifestyle?
This life isn't for everyone and it's taken some time to settle into. But there are little nuggets of wisdom that keep me sane, routines for example, when you move from place to place life can feel nomadic and unsettling. But with some regular life routines, you can do no matter where you are, these help to bring a familiarity to your domain. I can't stress enough, but good friends and teammates are huge, the people you surround yourself with make a big difference. Look for the happy in life, I like making cairns when I get the chance (like in Hawea - near Wanaka), simple pleasures.
Q: Many would say competing in the Olympics equals attaining an 'athletes' life dream, but what are your dreams away from the 'athletes' life?
The aspects to an athletes life that I love is the travel and meeting new people, it's amazing! So, when competing does finish I have dreams to carry on this lifestyle but away from the competition life and perhaps more authentic. A travel life dictated by where I really want to go and see, the cultures I want to experience, so many new horizons to explore.
Q: The 'power of time' is important to you, tell us why?
The power of time is important to me, as we all know we cant replace it. Things like money and material goods can always be replaced, but time is something we can never replace, so we need to appreciate it.
Q: You've traveled the world one comp at a time, when the pro-life ends, where would your first wild road trip destination be and why?
Surprisingly, although I 100% love the mountains and my life wouldn't be what it is without them, I feel my first trip will be beach bound. Head to the waves, I have a huge passion for the ocean and beach life, but haven't over recent years had the time to really enjoy these moments to the fullest. So beach it is!
Q: Training and competition life seems very regimented, is it and do you find yourself grasping for authentic adventure?
Luckily, my freestyle skiing is not as regimented as other winter-sports. Thankfully I can still soak up the mountain and get amongst nature even on training days up the hill, and when I'm not on the mountain or in the gym I still find time by myself to get into the wild. When you live in the mountains, you don't need to go to far to feel immersed in nature.
Q: Competing in the Olympics will be a huge achievement, what ingredients to the Olympic adventure are you looking forward to most?
Firstly I can't hide my pride to be representing South Korea in the upcoming Winter Olympics, its an incredible honour and that is truly enough for me right there. Everything else from there onwards is a bonus, don't get me wrong it would be incredible to achieve something for SK and myself, but to just compete is a dream.
Q: After the Olympics, what could come next? More competition, global adventure, life away from the mountains?
As a true athlete my answer has to be, right now the sole focus is Pyeonchang, and everything else can come after. I would love to let my mind day dream to the places I would like to visit and people to meet, but for now its about keeping the focus, staying in the moment and hopefully performing well at the Olympics.
Q: Lastly, what words of wisdom resonate with you most?
To the peers and idols, we move forward, slowly and steadily, pausing for a breath, in and out, be you, do you, stay you.
Huge support and best wishes Meeyhun, we'll be cheering for you dude!
Lookout for Meeyhun in the Freestyle-Ski Olympic discipline, you can always see what she's up to via her Instagram.