Rookie of the Year goes to Maggie Voisin, 14
"I'm pretty responsible for my age," Maggie Voisin says. She's detailing the events of her last winter: Move away from home, figure out how to balance school with traveling and skiing, learn how to grocery shop and cook for yourself. It sounds like a typical first winter as a vagrant skier, but Voisin is just 14. She recently became the youngest athlete on the U.S. Freeskiing Team and she's a women's slopestyle hopeful for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
In April, Voisin won the women's slopestyle event at the Association of Freeskiing Professionals' championships in Whistler with a big switch left 900, the only 900 thrown in the women's field. Before that she hadn't placed lower than fourth in any event she'd competed in all year. In May, DJ Montigny, the U.S. Freeskiing Rookie Slopestyle Team coach, called her up and asked if she'd join their team. "He'd been hinting about it in Whistler, like, 'I'll talk to you soon…' but I was really proud," she says.
Voisin grew up in Whitefish, Mont., which isn't known for its park or for breeding slopestyle skiers. She wanted to be a ski racer, but her twin brother, convinced that racing was uncool, pushed her toward freeskiing.
"I couldn't let him be better than me," she says. They'd build backcountry jumps and launch off of the old aerial hill on powder days. "When I finally got to go to events with bigger jumps I started sending it," she says. Despite that upbringing, or maybe because of it, she's known for her air awareness and her deep bag of tricks.
First training with Park City-based Axis Freeride and then the U.S. Freeskiing Team meant a move to Utah, without her family. She moved in with a host family, switched to homeschooling and started traveling to competitions around the country. It paid off.
She started the winter with a third place finish in slopestyle at the U.S. Revolution Tour in Seven Springs, Pa. She did well on the rest of the Revolution Tour and then she won the slopestyle competitions at USSA Junior Nationals and USASA Nationals at Copper Mountain.
Then it was off to Whistler, where she won on a bigger stage, against athletes like Tiril Sjåstad Christiansen, who won slopestyle at X Games Aspen last year. At the end of the season, Voisin was ranked 10th overall on the AFP Women's Slopestyle rankings. "I didn't think it would come this fast, it makes me feel more confident," Voisin says.
She's rolling into the coming winter on a high. In late August, she placed fourth at the FIS World Cup Slopestyle contest in New Zealand. "For me it's not about podiuming a lot, it's being able to experience Dew Tour and X Games and possibly the Olympics," she says.
If she doesn't make the team for this winter's Olympics Games, she'll be only 19 for the next one. And she's working on some things that she thinks will make her stand out.
"I do have a run, but I am going to keep it a secret right now," she says. "There are a couple of tricks I'm working on that no female has."