In 2006, Teter made her Olympic debut as a 19-year-old and came to the Torino Games with considerable credentials, having won the 2004 X Games title and bronze at the 2005 World Championships. However, she was slowed by a painful knee injury, a lesion on her femur that eventually would require two surgeries (Teter describes the injury in less technical terms by saying, "there was a chunk of bone that had separated, and it was kind of dangling around"). Because of that injury, Teter admits that she didn't know how she would perform in Torino, but her score of 44.6 points in the first round of the finals was not passed by any other competitors, allowing her to take a triumphant victory lap on her second run (on which she actually posted a higher score, 46.4). Following the victory, Teter and teammate Gretchen Bleiler, the silver medalist, embraced.
Following her win in Torino, Teter decided to take a unique initiative: she founded a charity called Hannah's Gold, which uses proceeds of maple syrup sales (her family is from syrup-rich Vermont) and all of Teter's prize money won at snowboarding events to support a village in Kenya. Teter made a trip to the village of Kirindon in the autumn of 2008, a visit that turned out to be more involved than just following up on her initiative of building schools and digging wells for fresh water. While there, she stumbled upon a group of women and children afflicted with AIDS who had been kicked out of their homes by their husbands and fathers. "We asked them, 'What can we do for you guys? If we could do one big thing for you in this group, what would it be?" Teter says. The answer was "buy land" so they could have a place to grow food and support themselves. Teter begun that process, which was helped, she says, by the fact that plots of land could be purchased for $1,000. Following her third-place finish at the Olympic test event in Feb. 2009, Teter said, "I think that's another $3,000 for Kenya." Or, a plot of land for three families.
All in the family
Teter is the youngest of five siblings, with four older brothers: Amen, Abe, Josh and Elijah. Abe and Elijah both have competed as snowboarders on the U.S. team (Abe is no longer actively competing), while oldest brother Amen manages his snowboarding siblings. Growing up as the only sister among four brothers, Teter did everything she could to emulate her siblings, which included following them into snowboarding. "I was just always a tagalong and always wanted to be like a boy when I was growing up," she says, "wearing their clothes and like their T-shirts, and always: 'Wait up for me, guys! I want to come along!'" Teter started snowboarding at age nine at Okemo, which is about 15 minutes from her family's home.
Maple syrup tradition
In an annual Teter tradition, every year the family has gathered to make maple syrup together, led by Hannah's father, Jeff. The process requires gathering thousands of gallons of sap, which is then boiled down to produce the syrup. When she was younger, Teter and her brothers would climb up into the trees near their Belmont home to hang buckets for sap collection, and later they'd round up the buckets once they'd filled with sap. Although the process has become more automated over time, the entire family still gathers each spring when the syrup is ready, and Hannah usually has syrup on hand with her while she's away at competitions.
As the pilot for the USA-1 bobsled, I broke a 62-year gold medal drought when my sled, the 'Night Train" won the Olympic title at the 2010 Vancouver Games. A degenerative eye condition nearly caused me to quit my sport in 2008, but corrective surgery restored my vision to 20-20.