River Radamus’s ski racing chops are impressive, sure, but not as impressive as his hair. (Photo: Alexis Boichard/Agence Zoom / Stringer/Getty)

We Talked to Olympic Skier River Radamus About Zebra Stripes, Self-Expression, and Hair Fails

The American downhill skier may not have won a medal in Beijing, but he got the most style points by far


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River Radamus is one of the most promising young skiers in America. The Colorado native dominated the junior circuit, winning three golds at the 2016 Youth Olympic Games and two golds at the 2019 Junior World Championships. Competing as a pro, the 24-year-old earned two sixth-place finishes at World Cup events and a spot on the 2022 U.S. Olympic alpine ski team. In Beijing last month, he competed in three different disciplines and finished fourth in the giant slalom, just .26 seconds shy of a medal.

Radamus’s ski-racing chops are impressive, sure—but not as impressive as his hair. Just before the Beijing Olympics, Radamus shaved his head and dyed it in a white-and-black zebra pattern. And it wasn’t the first time Radamus has altered his locks. At various races throughout his career, he’s sported a full mullet complete with a bowl cut in the front, a purple-and-green swirl doo, and a leopard-print dye job. “For a while I had this obsession with a perfectly bleached bowl cut, but I never got it quite right,” Radamus says. He’s also been known to sport a pretty sweet mustache.

We were so impressed with Radamus’s hair game in Beijing that we decided to call up the rising ski star and style icon for his tips on how to become more hair fabulous and ramp up the steez. Here’s what he had to say.

Express Who You Are with Your Hair

The hair is an extension of my skiing. I ski with more finesse and style than most of my competitors—Americans in general do. We experiment first and then find structure. I love the feeling of that powerful turn. Someone told me they could see the joy when I’m skiing. I try to convey that in everything I do, even my hair. That’s the best compliment I’ve ever gotten.

Read the Reviews Before You Buy Hair Products

The first time I bleached my hair, I wanted it ash white. I got the most potent hair bleach I could find and didn’t think much of it and bleached my hair the day before the first World Cup of the season. I didn’t look at the reviews for the product until I was using it, and I ended up with bleached hair and red spots on my scalp. I’ve learned that you don’t actually want the most powerful bleach on the market. You can always bleach your hair twice if you need to, but you can’t unbleach your hair.

Radamus sporting leopard spots at a World Cup event in Austria last October. (Photo: Michel Cottin/Agence Zoom/Stringer/Getty)

Be Bold. Cut Your Own Hair.

I carry clippers with me and buzz my own hair. Guys are reluctant to try something new, but I think you should buzz your hair every once in a while. The buzz cut is a pretty low-risk gambit and a good place to start experimenting because it grows out in two weeks.

Right at the precipice of buzzing or bleaching your hair, you’ll hear that little voice in your head telling you not to do it, to play it safe. Don’t listen to that little voice. It’s just hair. It always grows back. Who knows if I will go bald when I’m 30, so I better enjoy it while I can. Yes, I’ve had bad experiments, but that’s OK. It’s just hair.

Ignore the Haters

Ski racers don’t put a lot of thought into their image. I probably do more than most. I still get strange looks from the more established skiers on tour. Some of my “coworkers” have told me to change my hair, but I laugh it off.

For me, it’s a way to ground myself a little bit. I can get pretty caught up in the seriousness of the sport and the business aspect, dwelling on the results instead of enjoying the experience. The hair is how I remind myself that I get to play a game for a living. It helps me be mindful to be more playful.

Be Careful Who You Ask for Hairstyle Advice

I let my Instagram followers vote on what I should do to my hair before the Olympics. It could’ve gone bad, because a lot of people said I should do Ronaldo’s haircut from the 2002 World Cup. [Editor’s note: Google it. It’s…interesting.] Luckily the zebra print won out. I don’t recommend putting your fate in someone else’s hands.

Wear Your Mustache with Pride, Even If It’s Not Good

Listen, I don’t put a lot of foresight into any of this, and I’ve definitely never put much thought into my mustache. I just stopped shaving it, and one day it was sort of there. I come from a lineage of not-hairy men, but I wanted to prove to myself that I can grow a ’stache.

I don’t think it’s a good mustache right now. I worry that people think that I think it is, so let me be clear: I know it’s not good. It’s a work in progress. One of the great GS skiers of all time was Michael von Grünigen. He had a nice style about him and a really great mustache, like Tom Selleck. It was extremely manly. That’s what I’d like to grow, but I don’t think it’s in the cards for me.

Just Do It. Nobody’s Looking at You Anyway.

People don’t care about what you do as much as you think they do. We get worked up about what people will think about us, but the truth is people don’t think about us at all. Nobody notices when you have a bad hair day. You care about it a lot more than other people.

Lead Photo: Alexis Boichard/Agence Zoom / Stringer/Getty

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