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BW: Yeah, he's driving.
Patrick Deneen: [Inaudible. Sounds like he may be singing to the radio.]
Right on. So, be honest: When did you realize you'd made the Olympic team?
BW: I actually thought I made the team in Lake Placid. I thought the third place was good enough, so I skied with no pressure [during the last qualifier] at Val St. Come. But that podium I got at Val St. Come? That turned out to be pretty important. Without that second podium, it would have been up to the coach's discretion and I maybe wouldn't go. That second podium meant I automatically qualified.
Didn't anyone let you know?
BW: No, and I'm pretty oblivious to that stuff. I just try to go with the flow and ski. I wanted to place well, obviously, but I had no idea it was that important. I figure if I'm good enough to go, I go. If I'm not ready, I'm not ready.
- photo courtesy Harald Marbler
Has it been a whirlwind since you secured a spot?
BW: When I got the second podium, there were only three of us that had secured a spot—me, Pat and Hanna [Kearney]—with the two podiums. It was a whirlwind as far as really hoping my brother qualified [through one of the coach's discretion spots]. We were staying up late, trying to figure out if they were going to let him in. Unfortunately, they didn't. It was kinda weird because I expected him to go. When I heard that he didn't, I don't know ... I was so excited that I qualified but also so disappointed that they didn't choose him to go.
That must be tough to balance the mixed emotions.
BW: We've talked about it. He's so excited for me. He was so good about it and supportive, which makes it easier. It's not like he held me back from being excited.
What advice has Bryon offered?
BW: He told me to ski the moment, be in the moment, enjoy the moment. I mean, this could be a once-in-a-lifetime thing. Qualifying is the hard part. Now, I just need to go have fun and ski.
How would you describe your mindset heading to Sochi?
BW: This past week at Steamboat we were able to work on the little things we haven't had a chance to work on. When you start the year, there's just competition after competition and there's not much time to train. Steamboat gave us the chance to get some of those things dialed in. I got what I wanted to get done, done, and I'm at a level now where I feel I can just go to Sochi and skimy run.
You sound pretty carefree, no pressure.
BW: Exactly. That's kinda where I want to be. There really isn't pressure now. I'm an Olympian now—how cool is that? It's like I said earlier—the hard part is over. The qualification process is so hard because there are only two spots and our whole team, my friends, are competing for these two spots, and everyone was skiing well. It's not like it was easy.
For those watching at home when you compete, what should we look for from you? In other words, what's going to be the key for you to end up with a medal like your brother?
BW: I'm going to need a fast time because my DD [degree of difficulty] is a lot lower than some of the other competitors. I'm hoping to make up those points with my speed. I'm going to throw my best DD on top—a double full1, which will be one of the highest tricks you'll see. But, overall, if you see me with a smile that means I did well.
Have you seen the Ralph Lauren sweater that you have to wear at the opening ceremonies?
BW: Oh God. I have. Are you just imagining me in it right now?
- photo courtesy Jen Desmond
- Wilson needed two podium finishes in the last two qualifying events to punch his ticket to Sochi. Here, he launches off a jump during the 2013 Sprint U.S. Freestyle Championships.
Let me put it this way: It doesn't seem like the sort of thing you could wear around Butte.
BW: You will definitely not see me wearing that around Butte, I can tell you that. It is pretty cool, though. It's such a signature outfit. You earned it. It may not be quite my style, but I'm definitely glad to have it.
There have been reports of political issues and safety concerns with Sochi. Do you think about those things at all? Do you have any friends or family traveling to the games?
BW: My parents are going. I'm not worried about myself, but I definitely have thoughts for them. I want to make sure they have everything they need and that they're okay. I think the security will be really solid and hopefully everything goes smoothly.
And is your brother going?
BW: No, he's going to stay here in the States and keep training.
[Loud noise in the car]
BW: Oh, what the?
BW to PD: You good? I think you're good.
You okay? You parking the car or something?
PD: That was scary.
BW: No, we just drove over some spikes or something. Hopefully they were pointed the right way.
That might be the only thing that slows you down on the way to Sochi.
BW: [Laughs] Right? No, we're fine. This isn't going to stop us. We're good to go.
1 The "double full" is a backflip with two 360-degree spins.
by Skylar Browning
More than a game
Sports and politics will collide in Sochi, and that's a good thing
Last week I ate lunch with my friend, a fellow sports fan, who I'll call George. The Olympics came up in our conversation, and we began prognosticating about Sochi. We didn't talk about athletes or events or medal-contending nations, but rather about what sort of atrocities might befall these winter games.