Dan Barefoot, a competitor on the men's skeleton national team, is from Johnstown, Penn. He grew up playing baseball, hunting, and fly fishing, and is the oldest of three kids. Dan is an avid inventor and woodworker, making everything from longbows to kitchen utensils, and knives to turkey calls. He received his first patent pending while in high school. Dan attended Penn State University and graduated with a degree in landscape architecture.
Dan just wrapped up his third year sliding, and his first year competing on the national team. Check out some of his season highlights:
Get to know more about Dan's career and aspirations, both on and off the ice, in our Q&A:
Q: How were you exposed to the world of skeleton?
A: While I was working in Pennsylvania, I was bored one day and googled sports to get into and stumbled upon bobsled and skeleton. This was because I had a strong interest in competing on an Olympic level. I realized bobsled and skeleton wasn't the most popular sport, but was something where they were still recruiting athletes for the sport and I wanted to give it a shot.
Q: What is one obstacle you had to overcome to get to where you are now?
A: I was living and working in Florida, while trying to find a combine where I could go and try out for bobsled and skeleton. I was able to find a combine in my area and went and gave it a shot. Later, I got an email from them telling me I made it to the next round of the recruiting process.
Q: Do you have a warm up routine? Music you listen to?
A: Each run you have down the track, there are 100 problems you may run into and you need to find a way to solve them all. Pre-run, I picture myself as an eagle/hawk, but I'm constantly adjusting and perfecting my pre-race routine. Trying to find consistency in my preparation to produce the consistent results I want. For me, music can help, but I feel it is used too much as a crutch. Nonetheless, it helps your need to be relaxed and motivated. Every time I go down the track I try to find my inner zen.
Q: What are you most proud of from your career so far? What's your favorite track?
A: Last year was my third year competing and I made the national team! I love being put in a challenging scenario and learning on the fly. My performance at the Lake Placid, N.Y. Intercontinental Cup has to be my most memorable moment from my career so far. [Dan finished sixth and fourth!] I love competing on different tracks against different competitors because it is and incredible experience and helps me improve my game. In terms of my favorite track, I always think it is a bad mindset to dislike a track. At that time, whatever track I am going down is my new favorite track. Koenigssee in Germany is a really fun track, St. Moritz in Switzerland is incredible because of the experience and history there, but, ultimately, you can't go wrong with Lake Placid.
Q: How will you further your success?
A: Furthering my success is start driven. I have some bad starts due to some bad habits from my baseball career, so I need to maximize/perfect my starts to get my best times.
Q: How have you maintained your focus with the impact of COVID-19?
A: No matter what happens physically, I've taken this time to focus on the mental improvements because it is just important as the physical aspect. So I've taken time to learn tracks and their curves and utilize mental training more.
Q: What does life after skeleton look like for you?
A: My plan is to leverage the experiences I have had up until this point. I have overcome a lot of challenges to get to my position in skeleton today, so I can take the things I've learned and apply them to business.
Q: What is your favorite cheat food?
A: I love fully authentic foods. Some of my favorite are all you can eat Korean BBQ as well as authentic Vietnamese and Cuban foods.
Q: Do you have a favorite sport or athlete?
A: My family is a Pittsburgh sports family and I have played baseball my entire life. I would have to say Roberto Clemente is one of my favorites because of the challenges and tribulations he faced. He was very heroic in my eyes.
Q: What is your favorite place you've been through?
A: Through Penn State, I was able to study abroad for four months in Bohn, Germany in 2012. It truly had a large impact on my life from a cultural changing perspective.
Q: What is one interesting thing not a lot of people know about you?
A: I like to do a lot of wood working because I like to invent things. In high school, I had a patent pending on my first product, the turkey call, which is similar to a duck call, but for turkeys.