Julia Krass didn't listen to her ski coaches when they told her to give up soccer and concentrate on her Olympic career full-time. Now, the 17-year-old high school senior is celebrating a state title.
Krass, who competed in freestyle skiing at the Sochi Games earlier this year, loved soccer too much to quit. She also likes being a part of a team, something she misses when on a solo freestyle skiing run.
All part of being just "an average teenager" from time to time, she said.
"I really like having that balance, being able to take a break, hang out with my high school friends," Krass said Monday night after helping Hanover High School win the New Hampshire Division II soccer championship on Sunday.
"There was a time last year where my ski coaches were telling me to quit soccer and train all year on skiing," she said. "But I love both sports. It's definitely hard to continue to play soccer. I thought about focusing on skiing, but I loved soccer too much to stop."
After attending Hanover High in her hometown as a freshman and sophomore, Krass switched to online classes as a junior so she could train for the Olympics. Because she is home-schooled, she was still eligible to play as a midfielder for the school's soccer team.
But that meant two hours of soccer practice every afternoon while still working out in the gym to stay in shape for skiing. And while her Olympic competition headed to Australia or New Zealand to work out when it's summer in the Northern Hemisphere, Krass stayed close to home.
"That's the one thing I miss out on," she told The Associated Press. "It's definitely hard to balance the two."
Krass took a month off of school to go to Sochi, where she finished 11th in slopestyle. Although she is hoping to move up to the podium during the 2018 Winter Games, her first Olympic experience was "just to really experience the whole entire scene and have fun."
"I definitely want to get to the next level," she said. "It was difficult to take a whole month off school and go over there, but it was so worth the experience."
Meanwhile, Krass is trying to fit in with her soccer team — not always easy when you're an Olympian. When she lined up for a penalty kick in the state quarterfinals, fans broke out into a "U-S-A!" chant. On the bus home, one of her friends suggested she was probably used to the pressure after skiing in the Olympics.
But Krass said she's just as nervous — if not more — playing soccer.
"Skiing is an individual sport. (In soccer) everyone else was depending on me," she said. "But I had that moment where I did think, 'I did go to the Olympics; I can do this.'"