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Flipping over Sochi

A Montana-centric guide to the Winter Olympics

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Breaking rad

Whitefish phenom Maggie Voisin talks about growing up on the world's biggest stage

Last month, Whitefish's Maggie Voisin became not only the youngest athlete named to the 2014 U.S. Olympic team, but the youngest competitor the U.S. has sent to the Winter Games in more than four decades. Voisin began generating buzz in the freestyle skiing scene two years ago, and was named Slopestyle Rookie of the Year by ESPN in 2013. The Indy caught up with her a few days after her Jan. 25 silver medal run at the X Games in Aspen, Colo.

Indy: First off, congrats on the silver at the X Games.

Maggie Voisin: Ha, thank you. It's really exciting, yeah.

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The switch 101 was nuts. What was going through your mind when you were coming up on the jump?

MV: That's a pretty new trick for me, actually. I learned it the third day of training at X Games. I learned switch 9s2 last year, and they had been a pretty easy trick for me. So in my head, when I'm going off, I think just a little more set than a switch 9. For us, it's only one more 180. That's how I think about it. As you come off that lip, you just have to commit, from beginning to end.

How much practice went into it to get it down?

MV: Not much. It's kinda funny. I was just sitting on the knuckle of that second jump one day, which is the jump that I did it on, and I was thinking, "Wow, I have the switch 9, and I think switch 10 would be easy." It's a trick I always wanted to do. I talked to my coach and said, "I want to do this in Sochi, I think this would be a great place to warm it up." I did my first one that day and stomped it.

When did you set your sights on freestyle?

MV: I grew up with brothers. I was a tomboy, but I also was a figure skater, which is why I think I'm such a good spinner ...My brothers convinced me to join freestyle and that first year when I think I was 10 I learned my first 7203. I think why I progressed so much was because I reflected myself on my brothers. I didn't want them to be better than me. It was always kind of a battle.

Did you have any freestyle heroes in the early years that pushed you to progress fast?

MV: Yeah. When I was 11 years old, I went to Windells Summer Camp and got to ski with Ashley Battersby and Dania Assaly. That's when I was like, "These girls are so rad. I want to be just like them." Then, this past year, Tiril [Sjastad Christiansen, a rookie,] won X Games; she's been my new inspiration. She just jumped into the industry super strong and crushed it and I was like, "Dang, that's how I want to jump into the industry."

What's the attention like now when you go home? Do you feel like the resident star up at Whitefish?

MV: Definitely a little bit. I haven't been home for a while, not since I was named to the team or went to the X Games. I came back for Christmas break and that's when I did good at the [Mountain] Dew Tour and the Copper [Mountain] Grand Prix. I definitely started to get a little bit of attention, but I think coming home after the Olympics is going to be different.

Whitefish’s Maggie Voisin, the youngest member of the U.S. Olympic team at 15, catches air during the 2013 FIS Slopestyle Skiing World Cup Qualifiers in Cadrona, New Zealand. - PHOTO COURTESY OLIVER KRAUS
  • photo courtesy Oliver Kraus
  • Whitefish’s Maggie Voisin, the youngest member of the U.S. Olympic team at 15, catches air during the 2013 FIS Slopestyle Skiing World Cup Qualifiers in Cadrona, New Zealand.

What was it like hearing you were going to Sochi?

MV: I had to wait a day knowing that maybe I would get the third or fourth discretion slot. Monday was the day that I knew I was going to get the spot, and I had to wait all Sunday. That was a really long day. It was tough. I had to keep myself positive and tell myself, "It's not over yet. You still have a chance." On Monday, I was actually driving to Aspen with my coach and he was like, "I have to pull over. I have a conference [call]." I was like, oh no, I know what this is about. So I just put in my music as loud as possible. I didn't want to hear anything. I look over at him and he gives me the thumbs up. You can't explain how exciting it is, and especially for me at such a young age, it's such an honor, especially to be representing the U.S.

Do you remember what song was playing when he gave you the thumbs up?

MV: No, not really. As much as I was trying to just listen to the music, I was like, "Oh no, oh no. What's going on at that conference?" It was awesome.

What's it like being the youngest on the team? Who do you hang out with?

MV: I've always kind of grown up with the older girls, so I have older friends and sometimes I have to remind myself that I'm 15. But my roommate Julia Krass, she's actually going for the slopestyle as well and she's 16. I've known her for a really long time, so it's going to be super fun having a great friend to be able to go with and both experience it together for the first time.

It has to be a pretty grownup world, medaling at the X Games and going to the Olympics. Do you get to do any 15-year-old stuff?

MV: Oh yeah. My coaches and my parents, they all know that I'm still 15 and they don't want to take that life away from me. But for me, I'm really enjoying what I'm doing. When I go home is mostly when I get to remember that I'm still so young, just hang out with my friends and have that life too. My other life, my skiing life, I wouldn't ask for anything else. I love it.

This will be the first-ever slopestyle4 for the Olympics. What does it feel like to be part of that?

MV: It's crazy. I know I'm going to look back on this year and the Olympics ... and be like, wow, I made history there. And maybe be one of the first ones to podium. I'm so excited to show the world what our sport's about, because not many people know about it. What we do, it's amazing and it's fun.

Voisin competes in the slopestyle finals of the 2014 Visa Freeskiing Grand Prix. - PHOTO COURTESY SARAH BRUNSON
  • photo courtesy Sarah Brunson
  • Voisin competes in the slopestyle finals of the 2014 Visa Freeskiing Grand Prix.

Are you thinking much about what you'll do at Sochi?

MV: I definitely have an idea. I saw the course, but I haven't had a chance to really look at the rails and I definitely won't know until I get there. I know that there are three jumps, so I kind of have an idea what I want to do on the jumps. But I'm keeping it pretty open until I get there, because you never know what you want to do until you hit the course and feel the flow to it.

Do you have any favorite runs or memories from Whitefish?

MV: My parents show me pictures from when I was skiing on the bunny hill, and I always remember when I first started skiing alone. But one of my favorite memories is probably when I did freestyle and did my first 720. I was with my brother and his best friend. We have an old aerial hill, which is usually where I learned all my tricks, and I remember being like, "I'm going to do a 720." The boys are like, "No, no you're not," because they'd never done one either. But they all tried the 720 because I wanted to do it.

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