Maddie Bowman, who won gold in the inaugural ski halfpipe competition at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, reflects on her favorite memories from Sochi, the growth of her sport over the last four years and how she’s preparing for PyeongChang.
What was your favorite moment of the Sochi Olympics outside of competition?
My favorite moment was when we went skiing for fun. Rosa Khutor was amazing, the mountain was huge. Me and the girls, Brita [Sigourney], our coach Ben, just went out and skied for fun. We caught the sunset at the top of the mountain and you could see the Black Sea from there. So that was one of my favorite moments.
The mountain itself was private at the time. Just athletes, staff and volunteers. So you basically have this whole mountain to yourself. It was cool.
What was your favorite moment of the competition?
Definitely right when I heard that I won, after my second run. I just kind of burst into tears. It’s hard to explain the feeling, I’d say the best way to explain it is every emotion you’ve ever felt hits you at once. And it’s just super overwhelming: you’re excited that you won, you’re happy that the pressure’s over, it’s relieving. My friend Brita crashed [in her run] and you’re bummed that your friend didn’t beat you. It’s very overwhelming, it’s just a high.
Do you remember how you felt four years ago, when you were a year out from Sochi, and do you feel different today?
I probably didn’t know we were a year out from Sochi last time because you know the Olympics weren’t a thing for us as much as they are now. But I feel great.
Do you feel like the sport of ski halfpipe has grown since it’s been included in the Olympics?
It has grown. I was just in an event in Mammoth and there were 36 women competing in the World Cup, which is huge for us, almost even with the men’s field. And it’s cool to see that growth, it’s really cool. Just to get more women involved in sports in general is really rad and halfpipe is not an easy thing to do. To get more women involved in that is really awesome.
You’re often described as a “technical skier”—can you explain what that means to a freeskiing newbie?
I spin both ways a lot more. You have one natural way of spinning so I try to go the other way too. Instead of doing tricks just forward I like to do them switch also. And just making things difficult, trying to accomplish a ton of things in one run, having a lot of variety, I would say.
Are you preparing for PyeongChang any differently than you did for Sochi?
I learned a lot from Sochi, and if anything I learned you can’t prepare for the Olympics at all. I do know I just need to go ski and have fun and that’s when I’ll do my best and learn things.
Have you been to South Korea?
I actually haven’t been to South Korea, I’m going on Sunday. We’re going for the Test Event.
Karaoke is a popular activity in South Korea. What’s your go-to karaoke song?
I have never karaoked before, and I’m excited to do so in South Korea, I think that’s a great place to start off my karaoke career. I think I’ll start off with something a little more Taylor Swift-y then move into some different things. Maybe some Beyonce. But I don’t know if I can do it as good as she can! I probably can’t!