Love for skiing and winter sports translates seamlessly into art for Olympian artist Laurenne Ross

When two-time Olympian Laurenne Ross thinks back to her best Olympic memory, the image that flashes into her mind is of standing at the start gate at Sochi 2014, just before her downhill run.

Laurenne Ross Laurenne Ross

“It wasn’t my first start, but a really special moment,” says the skier who represented the USA at Sochi 2014 and PyeongChang 2018. “Downhill is the premier event. I remember getting ready, and everything was so still and quiet. Once I got my skis on, I felt an unusual stillness I had never felt before. Skiing may be an individual sport but, in that moment, I felt that I was part of a team, part of something bigger. That confluence of emotions made it a magical moment.”

It is this very confluence of emotions that Ross represents in her three artworks – entitled “Amalgamate, Fruition and Reminder” – created for the Olympian Artists-in-Residence programme at the Olympic Agora Beijing 2022.

“I grew up playing the piano, violin and guitar, and have always been passionate about creating art,” says Ross, who graduated from the University of Oregon in 2020 with a major in Fine Arts. “I was able to spend much more time on art and music when I was really young. Of course, once I started travelling a lot for skiing, I had less time to devote to art. It then became less of a focus and more a way to find balance. For me, art mitigated the stresses of competitive racing.”

Skiing has been an integral part of Ross’ life since the age of two when she first tried the sport with her father, in the Canadian Rockies. Later, when her family relocated to Oregon, USA, she quickly found success and made the US Alpine ski team in 2006. She went on to compete in six World Championships and two Olympic Games. All through that time, she never lost touch with her artistic side.

“I used to come back to the hotel room to play guitar, write in my journal, draw and paint,” says Ross. “It really helped me engage in skiing, and skiing helped me to engage with my art. I feel the same when I am skiing and when I am playing music, it’s a state of flow. And I am fully present and completely aware and awake.”

Laurenne Ross IOC

Ross’ art focuses on photography, printmaking and ceramics. Even while travelling the world for skiing, she took pictures of her teammates and colleagues, skiing and doing other things, and found that she thoroughly enjoyed it. She describes it as a balancing act.

“While skiing you are fully physically involved, and when you are making art, you are completely still. One makes the other happen.”

“I’ve been told I used to keep moving as a child, running laps around my house! Art allowed me to sit still,” she laughs.

Ross takes a camera with her everywhere she goes and is always taking photographs of her surroundings – trying to see the world from a different perspective. She has been shooting with a film camera since she was 10, and continues to practise this form of photography, as she finds the process of shooting and developing film akin to an art form filled with magic.

Laurenne Ross Laurenne Ross

Ross has collaborated on many art projects with different organisations, and for the Olympic Agora she has worked on digital collages using her film photographs.

“Creative thinking and critical analysis have always been really helpful to me,” says this multi-faceted Olympian artist, who is one of seven Olympians selected for the Olympic Agora Beijing 2022 – a digital programme that creates a vibrant space for the expression of the arts, culture, creativity and the values linked to the Olympic Games.

Launched by the Olympic Foundation for Culture and Heritage (OFCH) at PyeongChang 2018, the Olympian Artists-in-Residence programme celebrates the link between sport and culture by offering opportunities to athletes with artistic interests to produce and present new artworks during and between editions of the Olympic Games. 

Laurenne Ross (CAN-USA)
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Launched by the Olympic Foundation for Culture and Heritage at PyeongChang 2018, the Olympian Artists-in-Residence programme celebrates the links between sport and culture by offering Olympians with artistic interests opportunities to produce and present new artworks during or between editions of the Olympic Games.
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