There are less than two months to go before the 2018 Winter Olympics, and the athletes who are being considered for the various teams have poured their time and energy into gearing up for the games. Among them? Maggie Voisin, 19-year-old skier, favorite to head to the upcoming Olympics in PyeongChang on Team USA, and huge Chopped fan. But it's rare that she has time to wind down between practices. "I was put on skis for the first time around two or three years old," Voisin tells Bustle. "It's kind of in my blood.”
By the time Voisin was 12 years old, she already had her heart set on turning her passion for skiing into a lifelong career. “After my ski season at 13, I made some sacrifices to move out to Park City," Utah, where many winter athletes go to train. "It all just fell together," she says. In 2014, Voisin’s determination and commitment to skiing paid off. At just 14, she qualified for the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games — which made her the youngest competitor named to the U.S. Olympic Team since speedskaters Kay Lunda and Connie Carpenter-Phinney competed in 1972, in Japan. But, on the day of opening ceremonies, Voisin fractured her ankle, and was unable to compete in the Olympics.
Instead of giving up, Voisin let her ankle heal and got right back to intensive training. The skier’s particular discipline is pro slopestyle freeskiing, which she explains is “judged on how well you execute tricks, how difficult your tricks are, amplitude, and style.” The courses all vary, like a “maze,” she says, but skiers are given an idea of how many jumps they will have to make. Like the name “freestyle” suggests, Voisin says the competitors get to create their own run and choose signature moves.
Despite the intensity and competitiveness of her sport, Voisin says being surrounded by athletes all the time has led to a hugely tight-knit, supportive community. In fact, working with other female skiers is what keeps her motivated. “The really cool thing about our sport, more than anything, [is that] everyone in our sport is so close. All of us girls from all over the country are all such great friends,” Voisin says. “Yeah, we’re competitive and we want ourselves to do well, but we cheer each other on. I think that’s pretty unique to have in an individual sport. It’s really special.”
And having that support system is important, even when not competing. Voisin’s training is definitely not for the faint of heart. On a good day, her team will ski three to four hours a day. “There’s also gym time, which varies from summer to winter, but you could be spending two to three hours there,” Voisin says. “And then there’s PT [physical therapy]. Most of our day takes up training, and by the end of that, we are pretty exhausted.”
The members of the 2018 Olympic ski team will not be officially announced until Jan. 22, 2018, but Voisin is considered a likely pick for the Olympics, according to the Team USA's official website. “Since Sochi, I wanted to make sure I worked as hard as I could these past four years to really set me up going into this year's Olympics," Voisin says. “Obviously I want to make the team and find a little redemption.”
But Voisin explains that while she enjoys the competitive aspect of her sport, fostering her passion and love for skiing is her number one priority. “At the end of the day, you can win all these medals, and I'm not saying I don't want to win,” she says, “but in my career, and in this season, I want to push myself in a positive way, I want to inspire other people. It's easier said than done, but there's a positive way to go into every contest." Voisin may only be a teenager, but she is paving a path for herself as a career skier, and exemplifies that hard work can, indeed, pay off.
To learn more, visit teamusa.org. The Winter Games begin Feb. 8.