BILLINGS — When Maggie Voisin looks back on her past year, she recognizes that few people have had the kind of year she has had.
And what better time to look back than X Games week?
The 20-year-old slopestyle skier from Whitefish comes into the 2019 X Games Aspen as the defending gold medalist, but more on that later.
“It’s crazy. This whole year has flown by,” Voisin said this week. “I can’t believe that it’s already X Games.”
When asked about it this week, Voisin remembers how hectic the start of 2018 was.
“Last January was absolutely crazy,” said Voisin. “We had three Olympic qualifiers that month before X Games so it was just an insane month of contests and trying to make the Olympic team.”
She became the first American freeski woman to lock up a place on the U.S. Olympic team with a podium finish in mid-January and was officially named to the team Jan. 22, 2018 in Mammoth, California, at a ceremony where the squad received their team jackets.
“That was pretty special just because last Olympics I wasn’t able to do that because I was in a discretion spot so it was really really fun and special to be a part of that,” Voisin said.
In the final contest prior to the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Voisin earned a place atop the X Games podium and joined the ranks of heroes she had grown up admiring.
“Growing up when I was 10, 11, 12, winning an X Games gold medal was like winning the Olympics. Back then, our sport wasn’t in the Olympics yet and X Games still holds a very very special place,” Voisin said.
Then it was off to South Korea where the team had a week to prepare.
“The last opening ceremonies in 2014 I had a broken ankle so it was really nice to walk out injury free,” Voisin said. “It made it a whole different experience.”
In competition, her high score from the qualifying round placed her in the final with the last spot. In the final, she fell on the last jump during both of her first two runs.
“I was laughing at myself and was like, ‘You know what Maggie? You barely made finals. Please for yourself, that’s it, this is all for you — just land one run. Just land one run please.’ I remember just telling myself that.”
She did on her final run and was ecstatic to land her last jump. Her score placed her in the third-place position, but she had to wait for 11 other competitors to come down and see if they could better her score. Great Britain’s Isabel Atkins did and Voisin finished in fourth.
“It might have taken me a few days to kind of shake it off and really realize how grateful and how crazy it is to be 19 years old in my second Olympics and walking away with fourth place,” Voisin said.
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“For me, looking back on my season and winning X Games, I just skied the best I’d ever skied. And for me, you know coming into such a stressful year and being able to put it down, I don’t know, it was just really really special.”
So what does someone do after the Olympics?
“I went home and I got to ski powder for a month with my dad, which was really special. My dad is the person who taught me my love for the mountains and I know that was special to him as well,” Voisin said. “So I skied some of the best pow-skiing of my life.”
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Last year in April @maddie_bowman and myself had the opportunity to head up to Canada and ski with @tatummonod . We had the time of our lives while Tatum brought us into her element and showed us the Pemberton backcountry! Head over to the link in my bio to check it all out! Thanks to everyone who made this happen!🙏🏼#GirlsTrip
In April, Voisin went to Pemberton, British Columbia, to ski and film in the backcountry and then went to Mammoth, California, in May for the U.S. Ski Team camp, where she started to think about her next season. She began toying with the idea of adding a double to her repertoire and started trying it on the air bag.
“Part of what we do is to inspire other people and kids and that’s very important to me and I’m not someone who is good at sitting down and doing nothing,” Voisin said. “So it was really special for me to go home and have that time off and still be involved.”
“I was relaxing, but my mind was really set on knowing that I wanted to do this double.”
It wasn’t until October that Voisin really got back into the swing of the new season when at another U.S. Ski Team camp in Saas-Fee, Switzerland, she landed the trick she’d spent months working on for the first time on snow — a forward double cork 1260. That’s two flips combined with 3 1/2 spins.
“I think I let out a scream of joy in a pitch I’ve never let out before that I’m a little ashamed about,” Voisin said with a laugh. “It’s such an incredible feeling. Like I said, a double is a trick I’ve wanted to learn for a really long time and to finally put one to my feet felt incredible.”
She capped off 2018 with a bronze medal finish at the Dew Tour and her 20th birthday.
And while 2019 is not an Olympic year, it’s still an important one. Voisin will have the chance to defend her X Games gold medal in slopestyle and compete in Big Air in Aspen. The World Championships are being hosted in Park City, Utah, in February and Voisin will likely qualify in both events.
“We are pushing the sport like no other right now and it’s so fun to be a part of,” Voisin said. “There are 10 plus girls that could land on that podium any day, so the field is so much bigger and everyone is just pushing.”
As a competitor, Voisin wants to win and that includes this weekend in Aspen at X Games.
“I'm just really excited to kind of go all in and just go for it. That’s kind of where I’m at this season,” Voisin said. “We’re kind of in a sport that’s high-risk, high-reward and you know I want to be on top so if the weather’s good and all that, I’m definitely going to be trying to throw that double.”
“It is the best week on snow, so it’s hard not to have fun.”
Email Lindsay Rossmiller at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter at @LindsayRossmill