Slipping on a pair of headphones and using music to get in the zone is a familiar routine for many athletes. But which tunes help get Youth Olympic Games (YOG) stars ready to compete?
Like many snowboarders, Canada’s Tyler Nicholson – an X Games silver medallist who competed at the Winter YOG Innsbruck 2012 – chooses to listen to music during competition, with US rapper 2 Chainz among the artists on his playlist when he’s riding slopestyle or big air. “I’ve always listened to music since I was a little kid on the bus to school,” he says. “It gives me a rhythm as I come down.”
Australian paddler Jessica Fox – a gold medallist at the YOG Singapore 2010 – has used music throughout her career, and it’s obviously served her well so far, with her eclectic playlist helping her to silver and bronze medals at the Olympic Games and a slew of world titles.
“I always listen to music when I’m getting ready to race, whether it’s something to pump me up or calm me down,” says the 23-year-old. “Coldplay or some pop rock gets me ready to race, but I love the ‘golden oldies’ as well, maybe some Men at Work – those are good road trip songs when we’re travelling across Europe in the car.”
YOG snowboard champion Chloe Kim is another rider who likes to turn the volume up when she’s competing, and she knew exactly what tunes to queue up when she dropped in for her gold medal-clinching runs at the recent Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018. "I was listening to Paparazzi by Lady Gaga my first run; pretty good song,” she revealed. “Third run, I think I was listening to Motorsport [by Migos, Cardi B and Nicki Minaj]. There's a big difference between the two music styles. Paparazzi is very fun, and Motorsport is more like rap. But you know what? It did the trick. I'll take it."
Emily Arthur won a silver medal in snowboard halfpipe at the Winter YOG Lillehammer 2016 before finishing eighth at PyeongChang 2018, but it seems the 18-year-old could just have easily followed a singing career, judging by her love of music from an early age.
“When I compete, and even when I’m just riding, I listen to music on full with both headphones in and sing,” she explains. “Evidently really loudly, which makes sense as I apparently used to get up with my cousin at family dinners and ‘perform’ as we called it… embarrassingly this happened in public spaces too!”
When she’s not singing with her cousin on special occasions or winning YOG medals, Emily is a fan of everything from Superbass by Nicki Minaj to All The Small Things by Blink 182 and Just What I Needed by The Cars.
As well as winning 800m gold at the YOG Nanjing 2014, US track star Myles Marshall is a talented oboe player, who chose the woodwind instrument as he was looking for “something different”. “I tend to be a little outside the crowd and it is an unusual instrument as there are only two or three oboes typically in an orchestra of 200,” he says. “It is a unique sound.”
When he’s not hitting the high notes on the track or with his oboe, Myles enjoys listening to a wide range of musical styles, including global superstar Adele. “I have a taste for everything, but I really enjoy passionate music,” he explains. “I usually like a solo singer who sings about something that is true to them. I really admire Adele, she sings with so much passion in her voice.”