Andy Newell, this month's Athlete Spotlight, races at the 2013 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in Val di Fiemme, Italy. (Sarah Brunson/U.S. Ski Team)
Andy Newell doesn't just ski fast, he lives that way, too. A self-proclaimed adrenaline junkie, the Vermont native's love of extreme sports and pushing the limits has helped him develop into one of the fastest sprinters in U.S. history as well as one of the catalysts of the U.S. Nordic Team's competitive rebirth.
Name: Andy Newell
Sport: Cross Country
How/when did you decide you wanted to compete: I think my parents decided for me. I started racing at the local ski area, Prospect Mountain, in southern VT. Never alpine—always the real type of skiing as we called it, which meant cross county. I stared racing in my first competitions at about five years old.
Biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Three World Cup podiums, 5th at World Championships in 2007, 5th in World Cup sprint standings in 2013.
Goals for next season: It would be amazing to get a shot at a medal in Sochi. After crashing out of the Olympics in Vancouver, I'm ready to show the word what I can do.
Favorite snow destination: I like racing in the nordic venues that bring in the most fans. We will have up to 100,000 people show up in Oslo, Norway, which is always amazing. The city sprint in Stockholm is one of my favorites because it goes around the Royal Palace. It's a really exciting atmosphere.
Favorite non-snow destination: Waves and sun. Costa Rica is my favorite spring surf destination.
Favorite food: Waffles and pancakes.
If you weren't a professional athlete what would you be: A musician.
Time you've been most scared in your life: Probably starting my first World Championships. I was still a junior and very inexperienced.
Biggest vice: Singing and playing guitar.
Biggest pet peeve: Drivers who don't respect skiers and bikers on the road.
Advice to others who want to follow in your footsteps: Don't be afraid to take some chances both in training and racing.