This six-bedroom home with a ‘a Christmas tree forest’ is on the market for €1.25 million
This six-bedroom home with a ‘a Christmas tree forest’ is on the market for €1.25...

Sarah Finnan

This Howth home has been given a bright, airy refurb
This Howth home has been given a bright, airy refurb

Megan Burns

A seafront Skerries home has been given a luxe update with rich colours and hotel-inspired details
A seafront Skerries home has been given a luxe update with rich colours and hotel-inspired...

Megan Burns

A stylist’s guide to chic beach cover-ups
A stylist’s guide to chic beach cover-ups

Sinead Keenan

The IMAGE Father’s Day Gift Guide
The IMAGE Father’s Day Gift Guide

Holly O'Neill

Modern food and wellness expert Aisling Larkin on her life in food
Modern food and wellness expert Aisling Larkin on her life in food

Sarah Gill

Women in Sport: Para-cyclist Richael Timothy
Women in Sport: Para-cyclist Richael Timothy

Sarah Gill

The Irish fashion design graduates to watch
The Irish fashion design graduates to watch

Ruth O'Connor

New Bridgerton episodes and Inside Out 2 – what to watch this week
New Bridgerton episodes and Inside Out 2 – what to watch this week

Sarah Finnan

WIN four tickets to Taste of Dublin 2024
WIN four tickets to Taste of Dublin 2024

IMAGE

Women in Sport: Freestyle mogul skier Claire Dooley

Women in Sport: Freestyle mogul skier Claire Dooley


by Sarah Gill
20th May 2024

In this instalment of our Women in Sport series, we chat to Claire Dooley on everything from her earliest sporting memories to her greatest goals and proudest achievements.

Claire Dooley is a freestyle mogul skier for Team Ireland, targeting the 2026 Milano-Cortina Olympic Games. Mogul skiing is a judged sport where athletes ski down a field of ‘bumps’, completing aerial tricks off two jumps. After her rookie season in 2021/22, Claire debuted on the World Cup tour in the 2023/24 season, making history as the first Irish freestyle mogul skier.

Although she was born in sunny Brisbane, Claire’s grandparents have been prominent figures in the Australian Irish community, giving her a strong connection with Ireland. So, the opportunity to compete for Ireland has been an honour.

Here, she shares her sporting journey so far…

Claire Dooley

Name: Claire Dooley

Profession: Freestyle mogul skier.

Earliest sporting memory?

Chasing my friends across white sand beaches and the salty taste of seawater as we tumbled through breaking shore waves. Growing up near the iconic Australian coast, I participated in Nippers – a weekend program for under-14 surf life-savers to learn surf safety.

How did you become involved in your sport?

After my dad’s surf-boat rowing career, sport was integral to our childhood—cross country, netball, rowing. Our first family ski holiday when I was ten would certainly be no different: we would ski until our legs were jelly. As we improved through the years, the mogul slopes in the more challenging, off-piste terrain became our favourite.

Eventually, a passion took hold, and my parents had no chance of convincing us three siblings to go back to running along a straight line. I began mogul skiing when I was 14 years old, much later than my peers. Being an amalgamation of all ski disciplines – technical refinement, speed, and acrobatics, in an ever-changing, high-risk environment – I fell in love with the opportunity to challenge every aspect of my athletic ability.

Claire Dooley

What message would you like to share with young women and girls interested in pursuing a career as an athlete?

Don’t be afraid to play with the boys. Often, female athletes are lacking in clubs and groups, especially at community levels. Don’t let that deter you – training in the men’s field will push you to be stronger and faster. Eventually, as you spend more time in the sport, you will find a tribe of female athletes!

My proudest moment so far is…

Doing a back full (a straight back flip off a ski jump with a 360-degree twist). While this high-degree-of-difficulty trick is commonplace in men’s competition, it is still rare in the female field, so it aligned with my values of effecting change and elevating female sport.

Favourite sporting memory…

All the daily moments spent training with my younger brother Thomas (2024 Junior Olympian and male member of the Irish Mogul Team). As a two-person team, we spend an enormous amount of time with each other – hours in the gym, chairlift rides on the slopes, plane rides to competitions, and tiny hotel rooms at the mountain’s base. The deep companionship and the ability to empathise without even talking with each other have been a gift of doing sport together. I know he’ll rattle out an inside joke to make me smile even on the tough days, trudging home in the rain after a tough session.

Claire Dooley

What is the biggest barrier to driving visibility in women’s sports?

Lack of TV coverage permeates all aspects of women’s sports, from funding at the elite levels to role models and engagement for young girls. Over the past few years, however, this has begun to change. For example, the 2023 Women’s FIFA World Cup had enormous viewership and was followed by a massive spike in girls’ sports participation. Tuning into the women’s and not just men’s events on TV hugely supports female athletes of all levels.

If I weren’t an athlete, I would be…

In medical school. Beyond the snow, I’m a scholar passionate about human performance and optimisation, aiming to follow my grandfather and sister in becoming a doctor. Despite having to delay my academic pursuits while I compete and train full-time, I am still completing my pre-medical degree in Biomedical Science from Arizona University in between training sessions.

My favourite pre-competition meal is…

Anything with Maille Dijon mustard and some good carbs. Potatoes are one of my favourite foods… Did I mention I’m Irish!

My daily routine is…

Every morning, I roll out of bed and go on a walk outside – regardless of whether it’s sunny or raining. Depending on the time of year, I’ll then do multiple sessions a day, training on the slopes, lifting in the gym, trampolining to practise my aerials, or even jumping into a pool of water on skis! You’ll almost always find me munching something – I eat like a teenage boy to keep up with all the activity. In between it all, I am taking a pre-medical degree at the University of Arizona. You’ll find me nerd-ing out over a crossword or listening to a Huberman Lab podcast in my downtime.

My biggest sporting goal is…

Represent Ireland at the Olympic Games.

Sports brands I love (Irish or otherwise) …

I’m a classic Lululemon addict.

Biggest splurge to celebrate a win…

FaceTime with my parents. Even though I’m always away competing, they are my biggest supporters and their excitement at watching me achieve my goals (even if it’s 2am in a different timezone!) is unbeatable.

How do you mind your mental health?

Trying to pursue high performance in multiple sides of my life has meant managing my mental health is a constant challenge. It has become a huge passion of mine, a potential career pathway I may pursue in medicine. I’m extremely lucky to have a strong support team around me, and journaling, meditation and sleep are my ride-or-die strategies. But ultimately, I always return to the simple joys of being in nature, connecting with my friends and family, and a hug from my parents. It reminds me that we are more than what we do.

Claire Dooley

My three desert island beauty products are:

SPF. With this Irish skin, I’m the sunscreen police!

Lucas Papaw Ointment. I get my Mum to bring me stocks of this Aussie product every time I see her. Made from fermented paw paw fruit, it’s great for dry skin or scrapes, but it also gives a fun, glossy shine to your lips.

Dental floss. If you ever go to lunch with me, I already know I have food stuck in my teeth. I have weirdly sticky teeth, okay!

I need at least 8 hours of sleep a night because…

I expend an enormous amount of energy during the day. Recovery is as important as exercise.

Confidence, to me, is…

Showing up as your authentic self and being willing to make mistakes. This is a current learning point for me – despite the fear of failure, giving myself the chance to take a risk. That’s when the magic happens.

How do you get over a bad performance?

A hot bath and a hug from dad are my two favourite comforts. When I can’t get these away from home, I turn my earphones to 100% volume, close my bedroom door and dance to my favourite song! I also love to write in my journal. But ultimately, I remember that I am pursuing mogul skiing because I love learning and becoming the best version of myself – ‘bad’ performances are part of that; if I was perfect all the time, there would be no challenge to it.

Lastly, why is sport such an integral part of community, on a club, local, national and personal level?

Sport connects people through emotion – regardless of background, ability, work stressors or personal life, sports will always unite people together, whether a family kicking a ball in the backyard or millions of people glued to TV screens watching teams and athletes. For the moments between the whistle-blows, differences are set aside.