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  Comments (2) Total Friday Apr. 18, 2014
 
Next Stop Sochi for Whitefish’s Voisin
Whitefish skier builds momentum for Winter Olympics where she will be considered a top contender
Maggie Voisin competes in the Winter Dew Tour in Breckenridge, Colo. Photo Courtesy Shay Williams | Monster Energy
 Before making Olympic history, Maggie Voisin made X Games history.

The pint-sized 15-year-old from Whitefish seized the moment last weekend and unleashed an extraordinary performance in Aspen, Colo., proving she deserves consideration as a strong contender at the upcoming Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Touted as the youngest skier ever at Winter X Games, Voisin claimed the silver medal Jan. 26 in the women’s slopestyle competition. She narrowly missed winning gold after pulling off an eye-opening second run that included a switch 1080, a spinning aerial with three full rotations that begins and ends backwards. The challenging trick has only been successfully landed a few times in competition. Canadian Kaya Turski was the first female to land a “switch 10” two years ago when she won the Winter X Games slopestyle competition.

Voisin’s switch 10 earned her a judges’ score of 90, putting her well atop the standings. But as fate would have it, Turski followed up Voisin’s performance with an impressive run of her own that the scorekeepers deemed slightly better. Turski’s 91.33 held up as the winning mark and the 25-year-old Canadian claimed her fourth X Games gold medal only five months after ACL surgery. Missoula’s Darian Stevens placed seventh among the eight slopestyle competitors at the premier winter sports event.

Voisin’s performance in her first X Games proved what many have been saying leading up to the Olympics, that the youngster from Montana is one of the best in the world and can hold her own against the sport’s elite, and elder, competitors.

“It was amazing. She gave Kaya Turski a run for her money and there was a lot of debate afterward over whether Maggie should’ve won,” said Mike Douglas, the “Godfather of Freeskiing” who provided commentary on the event for ESPN. “I was very, very impressed.”

Last week, in the days leading up to the X Games, Voisin was added to the U.S. Olympic Team. Voisin, who turned 15 in mid December, will be the youngest American Olympian to compete at the Winter Games since 1972, when 14-year-old speedskaters Kay Lunda and Connie Carpenter-Phinney traveled to Japan with Team USA.

“It’s been crazy, but I’m trying to just stay calm and take it day by day, competition by competition,” Voisin told the Beacon last week. “I’m trying not to worry about what’s going to happen next and just focus on what’s happening now.”

Voisin is ranked fourth in the world in the latest Association of Freeskiing Professionals standings. Norway’s Tiril Sjastad Christiansen is ranked first, Canadian Dara Howell is second and American Keri Herman sits third, barely ahead of Voisin. Devin Logan, a member of Team USA with Herman and Voisin, is fifth.

All five women are considered the top contenders vying for medals at the Sochi Games.

“I’m just trying to go into every event, especially Sochi, like I have these last events, just having fun and loving what I’m doing. That’s when I ski the best, when I focus on the good parts of skiing,” said Voisin, the daughter of Truby Voisin and Kristin Voisin. “Hopefully when I get to Russia that’s what it will be like.”

She added, “I’m definitely trying to live it up. This year has been way more than I ever expected. My first X Games. My first Olympics. It’s crazy.”

She said she's grateful for all the support she's received along the way, especially from her hometown of Whitefish.

"I couldn't think of a better town to have behind me," she said.

The Winter Olympics begin Feb. 6 with women’s moguls and men’s slopestyle snowboarding qualifications. The opening ceremony is Feb. 7 and will be televised on NBC.

Voisin will compete in the slopestyle qualification round at 10 a.m., Feb. 11. If she advances, she will compete in the final immediately afterward, slated for 1 p.m. For a complete schedule of events, visit www.sochi2014.com/en/freestyle-skiing-schedule-and-results.

Voisin is among three athletes from Montana competing in Sochi.

Heather McPhie of Bozeman made the list of female mogul skiers selected for Team USA. The 29-year-old will be competing in her second Olympics; she raced at the 2010 Vancouver Games. McPhie achieved three World Cup victories this past season leading up to Sochi, and ranks third in the world standings.

Bradley Wilson of Butte will compete in the men’s moguls. Wilson, 21, is the younger brother of Bryon Wilson, who earned bronze in the moguls at the 2010 Winter Olympics. Bryon barely missed qualifying for Sochi, while his sibling put together an impressive season that included his first U.S. crown at the Freestyle Championships, securing him his first spot on Team USA.

A record 94 athletes were nominated Jan. 27 to the 2014 U.S. Olympic Team for Sochi thanks to the addition of new Olympic events in freeskiing, snowboarding and women’s ski jumping.

Todd Lodwick was named to his sixth Olympic Team, matching the most ever. The list of other well-known U.S. athletes includes Shaun White, Bode Miller and Julia Mancuso.
 
On 01-28-14, MontanaTrace commented....
Congrats Maggie!
 
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