From Unknown to Olympic Contender: 15-year-old Maggie Voisin is on the fast track
Montana native Maggie Voisin might be small in stature, but she more than makes up for it in talent and drive. Most all burgeoning 15-year-old skiers are learning their way around the terrain park, but what about Maggie? She took home a slopestyle win at the AFP World Championships last spring in Whistler over multiple established women, including last year’s X Games gold medalist. All the age old expressions work: She’s the next wave; she’s the next big thing; her star is on the rise. But they wouldn’t do her justice. In fact, Maggie’s here—she’s arrived. The women’s industry has been warned, the next big thing is already here.
Hometown: Whitefish, MT
Sponsors: Monster Energy, Oakley, Armada, Whitefish Visitor Bureau
You went from being an unknown 14-year-old to a 15-year-old with an X Games invite. How has your life changed in the past eight months?
It’s crazy how fast things changed for me, but I couldn’t think of a better time for it to happen. My first big step was joining the the US Freesking team this past summer. Then in September I started school in Park City; [then] ended up going down to my first World Cup in New Zealand around the same time. I also gained a lot of new support from great companies. Once I got my X Games invite thats when it really hit. From there I realized that my skiing career was taking a huge step and for being so young it really opened my eyes and showed me what I am capable of achieving. It just gave me a huge boost of confidence and I couldn’t think of a better way to be starting this season. I’m really thankful for all of my opportunities and looking forward to new beginnings.
You’re young and you’re getting into the industry, is there anything you’d wished you’d known before diving head first into the season?
Coming into the industry, I was well aware of what I was getting into. I have always loved skiing and what comes with it. I can say there is nothing that I wished I would have known. For me I am more excited to learn the in’s and out’s of the industry, while becoming a bigger part of it. I am really looking forward to [what the future holds.]
Photo by Shay Williams
How did you wind up getting into slopestyle in the first place? Montana isn’t a hub for terrain parks.
I grew up in a little ski town in Montana, naturally I learned to ski at a very young age. I grew up doing Tommy Moe races and loved it. When I was old enough to join a team—racing or freestyle—I picked racing. My twin brother and his best friend actually convinced me to join the freestyle team instead, so I did. I couldn’t let them be better than me, so from the start I pushed myself to be as good as the guys. The tricks I learned happened on a majority of backcountry jumps, mostly on an old aerial hill. From the beginning I found my passion for the sport and as I got older and started to compete out of Montana and as the jumps got bigger, I just sent it. Then last season in January I ended up moving out to Park City.
How are you holding up with all the travel? The past three times I’ve seen you were in Canada, New Zealand and now the States. Is travel a nice window into the outside world, or more of a necessary evil to keep skiing year round?
I love to travel. That is one of the best things about skiing, it takes you to some of the most beautiful places. I am fortunate enough to go to places like New Zealand. It’s just a really cool way to see the world and see different cultures. You’re always meeting new people and you’re getting to travel the world with some of your best friends, how could you not enjoy it?
You’re young and you’re coming into the sport at an exciting time, but who were your influences growing up? Who did you look up to for skiing inspiration since you aren’t naturally from a Park City or a Mammoth.
My first year at Windells Camp when I was 11, I got to be coached by Ashley Battersby, and Dania Assaly. I wanted to be just like them when I was little, so you could definitely say that they were some of the first influences. Also this last year watching newer girls like Tiril [Christiansen], that really inspired me. Tiril was a newer name and just went out and slayed it this past season and I would say she has been one of my recent inspirations. She really proved herself and I knew right away when I saw her ski, that’s how I wanted to jump into the industry. Now that I am getting the chance to compete with these girls that I have looked up to, it’s just such an honor.
What’s your mindset like at contests? How do you get ready to compete, especially at such a young age?
Starting to compete at bigger events, while being young, I feel like it’s an advantage for me. I don’t feel as much pressure and when I take that pressure off myself that’s when I ski the best. Learning to control my emotions now is only going to help me in the future and I try not to let anything or anyone get to me and just have as much fun as possible.
Now that you’ve made a decidedly large jump in competitive level, will you change your approach at all? Do you imagine X Games and Dew Tour to be any different from other events you’ve done in the past?
Going into bigger competitions, it’s definitely going to be a big change, but a good one. Getting the chance to compete in events like Dew Tour and X Games, that’s been my dream since I was 12. They bring a different crowd—a crowd that brings a bigger and more exciting vibe. Getting to these events only makes me want to try harder and really progress my ability.
Maggie throws down in Park City, UT, January 2014. Shot by Shay Williams.
As you’ve now set down a road for the foreseeable future, is there anything you think you’ll miss about being home and spending time in Montana?
There are always a few things I feel I will miss out on, such as going to a real high school, but to be honest I’m getting the opportunity that a lot of high schoolers will never get. I’m living in my own world and creating a future. I miss skiing Montana pow, but luckily I get to spend my summers back home.
Ultimately, where do you want to see yourself? Where would you like your career to go?
I believe every athlete wants to see themselves do well in their field no matter the consequences. But for me, I just want to keep loving and progressing the sport. I do it because it’s exciting and because it’s what I love. My passion for the sport is why I progress and it allows my ability to be the best I can be. When I’m having fun, that’s when I see myself do well.
You recently turned 15. You’re the youngest competitor on the main stage by a few years. Is that an advantage? Or is it really a moot point for you?
Right now, I feel I have no advantages, but my advantages will come in my later years. I will gain much experience from a young age to take with me in my future in the ski industry.
You’ve also just been named to the U.S. Olympic freeskiing team. When you heard you were selected, what was your first thought?
It’s really hard to pin down all my emotions, but I have to say it has been one of the most rewarding days I have experienced in my life. I look back to when I started freeskiing and it’s crazy to see how far I have come over the past few years. I never imagined that I would be one of the first slopestyle athletes to go to the Olympics, and that alone is something special I get to carry with me for the rest of my life.
How do you feel, representing your country for freeskiing’s first time in the Games?
It’s really exciting to think, years from now, I was a part of the first-ever slopestyle team and I couldn’t be more excited to be representing America. The U.S. has such a big field of great athletes and it’s the biggest honor to be one of a few representing the Red, White and Blue. I can’t even express how exciting it all is.
Will this change your approach to the the rest of your season, or X Games?
Making the Olympic team has changed my approach on the rest of the season a little, but over all it’s a big relief. Going into X Games, I have no Olympic pressure and all I get to do is have fun.
To stay in touch with Maggie this season, follow her on Instagram.
About the author:
Shay Williams is the former Managing Editor of Freeskier Magazine. He now works full-time with Monster Energy, and continues to contribute to freeskier.com.