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U.S. Olympic skier River Radamus debuts a wild look in Beijing

From left to right: U.S. Olympians River Radamus, Isabella Wright, Thomas Ford.
Joe Scarnici
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Getty Images for USOPC
From left to right: U.S. Olympians River Radamus, Isabella Wright, Thomas Ford.

BEIJING — Before heading to the Olympics, athletes may get a haircut or their highlights retouched to look their best as they compete in front of the entire world.

U.S. alpine skier River Radamus took it all a step further before competing in the Beijing Winter Olympics in alpine skiing events, including Tuesday's super-G race.

The 23-year-old cut and dyed his hair into the pattern of a zebra — a decision he left up to his Instagram followers, according to Olympics.com.

"I wanted to do it so those who support me have a part in my experience at the Games," he said.

It's also a reminder not to take himself too seriously.

"I get to play a game for a living so I want to make sure to enjoy it and not let the pressure or expectations take away my love for it," he said.

It's not the first time Radamus underwent a transformation ahead of a major competition.

Prior to the Soelden Alpine Ski World Cup, Radamus dyed his hair into a snow leopard pattern — a look inspired by former U.S. Olympic downhill skier Chad Fleischer, Radamus told the U.S. Ski Team.

U.S. alpine skier River Radamus dyed his hair into a snow leopard pattern ahead of the men's Giant Slalom event during the FIS Ski Alpine World Cup in Soelden, Austria.
Joe Klamar / AFP via Getty Images
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AFP via Getty Images
U.S. alpine skier River Radamus dyed his hair into a snow leopard pattern ahead of the men's Giant Slalom event during the FIS Ski Alpine World Cup in Soelden, Austria.

"I wanted to carry that tradition forward, and carry that, sort of like, free spirit American-style forward," he said.

Before taking on the animal-inspired looks, in prior competitions he rocked a self-described "mullet bowl" and dyed his hair blue and green.

The 2022 Winter Games is Radamus' first time competing at the Olympic level. He is a three-time Lillehammer 2016 Winter Youth Olympic Games champion.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Corrected: February 8, 2022 at 11:00 PM CST
Due to an error provided in the photo caption, the names of Isabella Wright and Thomas Ford were incorrectly listed in the wrong order.