Park City native Megan McJames continues Olympic journey in PyeongChang
PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — Alpine skier Megan McJames began her Olympic dream young.
“Grew up in Park City, Utah. And my first Olympic experience was when the 2002 Olympics came to Salt Lake,” McJames said.
Skiing powder at Alta, ski racing by age 8, and then making the U.S. Ski Team during her senior year of high school. It was a run that propelled her to the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.
But that run soon came to an end.
“In 2012, I was cut from the us ski team and for the past five seasons, I’ve been competing with no support from them.”
McJames made the U.S. Olympic Team in Sochi and here again in PyeongChang all on her own.
She’s not even a member of the U.S. Ski Team. She is an independent athlete who raises all of the money she needs to compete at the World Cup level on her own.
“That means you’re raising all your funding, all your travel logistics, tuning and waxing your skis, fitness, organizing training dryland, everything,” McJames explained.
She said her budget is about $50,000 a year.
Her best event is the giant slalom. She’s the second-best skier in the U.S. in that event, behind someone you might have heard of: Mikaela Shiffrin.
Her Olympic dream uncertain for South Korea, McJames got a call a month ago in Utah to go to a qualifying event in Croatia. She packed a bag with enough clothes for 10 days and took off. She hasn’t been home since.
“After that, I just kept getting starts and starts, and when you’re a racer, you don’t say, ‘No, I don’t want to race,’ so I just kept going, and I’ve been doing laundry as much as I can,” McJames said.
She garnered enough World Cup points to qualify, and although she isn’t a part of the U.S. Ski Team, she is undoubtedly close with the team members — equally an Olympian.
“I think that’s the biggest thing I miss, is the camaraderie with the girls. Because the other athletes are my best friends. You travel together. You understand each others struggles,” she said. “All the other girls have always been very supportive of me.”
Between loads of laundry, keeping her skis tuned, checking into and out of hotels, working out and eating a ski racer’s diet, Megan McJames’ story may just be more impressive than most.
“My story is cool, because I’ve been able to persevere through all the challenges and be creative in finding solutions, because I really love skiing and I love being in the mountains and that’s why I do it.”
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