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Sean M. Haffey/Getty Aaron Blunck
Preparing to compete on the world stage isn't an easy feat, which is why the support of loved ones is crucial for athletes. Even if those loved ones are canines.
During the first day of the virtual Team USA Beijing Winter Olympics and Paralympics Media Summit on Monday, freestyle skier Aaron Blunck told PEOPLE that "family is everything" when it comes to dealing with a grueling training and competition schedule.
"At the end of the day, I think it's really the people who you surround yourself with, whether it's your fiance, girlfriend, wife, whatever it is," said Blunck, 25. "They're your biggest support system, but you know, you could even range that into your dogs."
He continued, "I mean, for me coming home at the end of the trip, there's nothing more that I love than seeing my two dogs and just, it makes you feel like a normal human. ... After months on the road or crazy amounts of contests, like just being able to pick up your dog or pick up your cat, whatever it is ... it was just like all of a sudden, all your worries go away."
Animals, he noted, "they don't care if you've won a hundred medals, all they care about is that you come home back home to them safely and that you're still the same person that you were before you left."
Blunck previously competed in the Olympics in Sochi in 2014 and Pyeongchang in 2018. The Colorado native is also an X Games and World Cup champion.
To learn more about all the Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls, visit TeamUSA.org. Watch the Winter Olympics, beginning this February, and the Winter Paralympics, beginning this March, on NBC.