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Julie Chu

In terms of locker room pump-up songs, ballads by Celine Dion may not be the first to come to mind. Yet for U.S. women's hockey forward Julie Chu and teammates, the songstress gets the job done. "We all start singing along," Chu says. "It's a lot of fun, and it's one of the things I love about being a part of this team."

When SHAPE sat down with Chu to hear how she's prepping for the upcoming Winter Games, the bubbly three-time Olympic medalist spoke in rapid-fire sentences, her enthusiasm for her sport and teammates clearly visible. "I think our team is full of incredibly strong, passionate women," Chu says. "What we emphasize is a 'team first' mentality. How are we going to do whatever we can do to make sure we are successful?"

Having Chu on the ice is one factor that will help the team find success in Sochi. The 31-year-old began her decorated hockey career in her hometown of Fairfield, CT, then played at Harvard University from 2002 to 2007. She took a break to compete in the 2002 Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, where she and the U.S. women's team won the silver medal. In the 2006 Games, they nabbed bronze, and in 2010, Chu helped the team score silver. As for 2014? Chu's going for the gold. "The reality is, we haven't won a gold medal in three Olympic cycles," she says. "So that's what we're hoping for."

Since 2010, Chu's stayed busy, working as the assistant women's ice hockey coach at Union College in Albany, NY, and then playing on the Canadian Women's Hockey League's (CWHL) Montreal Stars on weekends. And she certainly isn't slowing down as the Winter Games approach. She also skates with her Olympic team six days a week. "On top of that we'll also lift three days a week, and do high intensity interval training. We've learned that the off-ice training really helps us on-ice," Chu says. "We've got a great strength coach, Mike Boyle, who has really pushed us the last three and half years. We're physically more fit, we're stronger."

Chu's work ethic doesn't stop in the weight room. With the help of the team's nutritionist, Chu "periodizes" her diet, meaning she eats more calories and lean protein during intense training phases, but when her workouts let up, she fills her plate with more fruits and vegetables. "I pretty much love and eat everything, including a burger and fries every so often!" Chu says. "But I know if I eat that everyday, I'll feel slow and sluggish."

Even though she spends most of her days on ice, it's hard for Chu to chill out. "I'm a pretty high-energy person," she says. In her rare downtime, she channels her energy in the kitchen. "I wouldn't say I'm a Top Chef, but I do enjoy cooking a lot and I'll cook a lot of team meals," Chu says. "I also like hanging out at home with friends—the more the merrier—and doing crosswords, especially when I travel."  —Locke Hughes