Maddie Bowman continuously thanks her family for her early years learning different sports. Maddie’s parents, Sue and Bill Bowman, skied competitively, and introduced Maddie to the sport. Today, not only does Maddie enjoy competing, but bringing the family back together to watch her compete.
“…I think my favorite part of the Olympics is just sharing that experience with the people in your life, the teammates you travel with, my family being there, my mom,” Maddie told Sports Illustrated. “And also sharing that adventure with the people back home, telling them about it and them getting to watch.”
Like many Olympic athletes, Maddie knows how to juggle multiple things as she is also earning a biology degree at Westminster College in Salt Lake City, Utah. Maddie spoke with Sports Illustrated about the challenges of balancing being a student with training for the Olympics.
“The balance is tricky,” Maddie told Sports Illustrated. “It’s a lot of taking time off from school and then cramming really hard in school. You just have to be on top, that’s the biggest thing for anyone who has a lot to get done in a short amount of time.”
As her recent milk commercial shows, Maddie gets encouragement from her mother when she finds her schedule overwhelming.
Learn more about Maddie’s family including her parents, Sue and Bill.
1. Maddie’s Father, Bill, Was on the Pro Skiing Circuit & Her Mother, Sue, Also Raced Before Becoming a Coach
According to U.S. Ski and Snowboarding, Maddie began learning how to ski when she was two. Her father raced on the pro racing circuit, while her mother raced in the Far West division. Sue would later become a ski coach. After trying out the various skiing programs, Maddie found she loved freeskiing over everything else she attempted.
The family’s hard work paid off as Maddie won the first ever Olympic gold medal in women’s halfpipe skiing at the 2014 Winter Olympics.
“When she won the gold medal, I was super proud,” Sue told NBC. “I felt like she really fought for it and earned it.”
2. Maddie Learned Her “Body Was Her Temple” From Her Mother & Credits Her Dad for Helping Her Thrive in a Male-Dominated Sport
Given her parents were both skiers, Maddie took a lot of lessons away from her mom and dad as she began her career. In an interview with Sports Illustrated, Maddie credited her mom for teaching her how to take care of her body.
My mom told me your body is like your temple. It takes you all the way through life and lets you do so many amazing things so it’s really important to respect it, take care of it and feed it well. That was huge for me, and that’s a huge message. I think people these days can be really upset with their bodies but it lets you accomplish some of your greatest memories and achievements.
According to Team USA, Maddie’s dad competed on the U.S. National Alpine Ski Team. Growing up, Maddie’s father treated her like any other competitor he knew. She believes it is one of the reasons she has thrived in a sport dominated by males. Maddie explained her father’s philosophy to Sports Illustrated.
My dad never limited me on what I could do. If I wanted to do something or if I wanted to play a certain sport, he never based what I could do based on my gender which was really cool and influential, especially being a woman in a male dominated sport, and I think that’s such a great lesson to teach kids as well. It’s just you can do anything, and I think to support and encourage them, that will grow women in sports.
According to USA Today, her parents used a pair of old orange suspenders as a makeshift leash as they taught Maddie to skate.
“They dragged me everywhere on that leash before I let them off of it,” Sue told the USA Today. Maddie found the more traditional events to be too structured, and felt they did not give her enough freedom.
“The racing was a little too structured for her, and a lot of standing around,” Bill told the USA Today.
3. Maddie Appeared With Her Mom in a Milk Commercial
Maddie and her mother were able to share a bit of their story thanks to a recent milk commercial. The 60-second ad begins with Maddie calling her mom, and sharing how her anxiety about her finals is impacting her confidence on the slopes.
“Oh honey, you’ve been on your skis longer than you can even remember,” Sue responds. “You are so strong, and I just know that you’re going to do amazing. You have everything you need right inside you. You know I’m super proud of you, right?”
As the audio of Sue encouraging her daughter plays, the commercial shows clips of Maddie learning to ski with her mom along with other short clips of Maddie as a child.
4. Maddie Has a Hidden Talent for “Being Able to Fight With My Brother Without Talking to Him”
Maddie may be an accomplished Olympian, but it sounds like she has a typical relationship with her younger brother, Alec. She was asked by Teen Vouge if she had any hidden talents, and her response involved getting into fights with her brother.
“I think my only hidden talent is being able to fight with my brother without talking to him,” Maddie told Teen Vouge. “We can fight in a room where everyone else is and they don’t know we’re fighting.”
For all their sibling rivalry, Alec is still complimentary about his sister’s skiing ability.
“When it turned serious for her, it didn’t change who she was cause she’s always just trying to have fun,” Alec told USA Today. “And now it’s just a bonus because she gets to ski for her job.”
5. Her Grandmother Wore a “Badass Grandma” Shirt During the 2014 Winter Olympics
Maddie’s grandmother, Lorna Perpall, wins the award for the best Olympic t-shirt. During Maddie’s 2014 gold medal run, Lorna wore a blue shirt with the American flag on it with “Badass Grandmother” written in white text. The story behind the shirt came from a radio interview Maddie conducted prior to the Olympics. Lorna recalled the interview to the USA Today.
“And she said, ‘Oh yeah, I wouldn’t think of going to the Olympics without her. She’s one badass grandma and I want to be just like her when I grow up,’” Lorna told the USA Today. Lorna was indeed there, shirt and all, to watch her granddaughter win a gold medal.
“I won’t say I’m surprised, but the suspense never stopped,” Lorna told USA Today after Maddie’s victory. “I’m a little in shock. I can’t wait to give her a hug.”