Can Perfume Make You a Winner?

Matthew Futterman reports for the Wall Street Journal:

World-class athletes crave routine. Baseball’s Wade Boggs ate chicken before every game. Swimmer Michael Phelps blasts hip-hop in his earbuds before races. Others have a lucky shirt or pair of socks that feel right on their bodies, and nearly all of them watch video of previous events to help visualize a peak performance.

Few bother with smell.

Michelle Roark, the 2009 U.S. freestyle skiing champion, wants to change that. Ms. Roark, who is two classes short of a chemical engineering degree from the Colorado School of Mines, is convinced that the scent from a patent-pending perfume blend that she developed and calls “Confidence” is as important to her success as a good night’s sleep. Before competing, she douses her neck-warmer in the natural fragrance and spritzes it on the back of her neck and behind her ears.

“It’s scientifically proven that smell is closest to our emotions and our memories,” Ms. Roark said during an interview this week from Switzerland, where she is training for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. “Why shouldn’t we use it?”

Like most Olympic athletes, Ms. Roark—who is, at 35, a senior citizen by skiing standards— can’t support herself solely through sports. So when she’s not on the slopes, she can usually be found in a Denver lab mixing essential oils for her fledgling fragrance line, Phi-nomenal…

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