Megan McJames is representing the United States in the 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang. She’s skiing in the giant slalom for the third time, after competing in the 2010 Vancouver and 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. She’s also competed in four World Championship events.
McJames was cut from the US team in 2012, and has since raised her own funding. When not skiing, she hikes, bakes, and writes on her blog.
Here’s everything you need to know:
1. She’s Been Skiing Since She Could Walk
McJames was born in 1987 in Park City, Utah, where she has been skiing since she was two-years-old. When she was eight, she joined the Park City Ski Team. She attended the Winter Sports School, a school founded by parents whose children were athletes and needed to travel in the winter, but could dedicate more time to school during the rest of the year. McJames graduated in 2005, going on to study finance at Westminster College.
McJames grew up skiing at Alta Ski Resort, where she also played soccer, mountain biked, hiked, and played tennis, among other outdoor activities.
When not racing in the Olympics or World Championships, McJames skis for the Park City Ski Team.
2. This is Her Third Olympics, Thanks to Her Own Self-Funding
McJames was on the United States’ 2010 and 2014 Winter Olympics ski teams, but was cut from the U.S. Ski and Snowboard team in 2012. Without the team to help support her, she had to raise funding on her own for the World Cup and other events.
“It’s a lot harder in a lot of ways,” she said to Deseret News. “But it’s also given me freedom to pursue the athletic plan that’s best for me. I am juggling a lot more details, like fundraising and travel plans, but then you have that one run, and you know it’s awesome even before you see your time on the board. It makes it all worth it.”
Even without funding, planning, and other support the team could provide, McJames earned a spot in the 2018 Winter Olympics. She will compete in the giant slalom, the same race she competed in in Vancouver in 2010 and Sochi in 2014. In 2010, she placed 32nd, and in 2014 she placed 30th.
“When I was first cut, for sure, it was a process of re-believing in myself,” she said. “The organization that manages skiing in our country was saying I’m not good enough.”
She said her passion for skiing is what motivated her, and making it to the 2018 Olympics has made it all worth it.
“I’m so proud to announce that I qualified for the 2018 Olympic team! Thank you so much for your support, ski racing independently would not be possible without my family, friends, donors and sponsors! I’m very excited about my 3rd Olympics and 2nd Olympic qualification without the support of the national team!” she posted on her website in January.
3. She’s Competed in Four World Championships, and Beat Her Personal Best Score This Year
McJames competed in the 2009, 2011, 2015, and 2017 Alpine World Championships. Most recently, in 2017, she earned 21st in giant slalom and 36th in slalom.
In 2015, she was 38th in slalom and 34th in giant slalom. In 2011, she came in 29th in slalom and 34th in giant slalom, and in 2009 she was an FIS Alpine World Championships Team Member.
McJames was the NorAm Overall Champion in 2006, 2013, and 2016; the NorAm Overall Super-G Champion in 2006; the NorAm Overall Giant Slalom Champion in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2012, and 2016; and the NorAm Overall Super Combine Champion in 2016. She’s had 90 World Cup Starts, beginning in 2006.
4. If Skiing Doesn’t Work Out, She Has Plenty of Hobbies
When not skiing, McJames spends time with her parents Sue and Scoot, and her brother Kevin. She enjoys hiking, mountain biking, and camping, as well as baking and watching movies.
“I enjoy relaxing in the kitchen while baking, watching movies and skiing powder at Alta Ski Resort,” she says.
On Instagram, she posts photos of hikes, workouts, and skiing with friends, with occasional baking photos.
5. She Has a Blog, Where She Chronicles the Highs and Lows of Skiing and Life
“I have to start this entry simply saying that this was a strange season! Without much of a prep period due to injury the season started slowly and with only one world cup start, I started to worry that the season might pass anti-climatically. I am proud to say that despite the odds, I ended the season winning the Noram overall giant slalom title which guarantees my world cup spot in every giant slalom next season and, in my last giant slalom race of the season, I scored my best point result of the year, a 9!” McJames wrote on her blog in April 2012.
Since November 2008 she’s been chronicling her life, talking about skiing, the challenges of getting cut from the team, fundraising, and her joy over making it to the Olympics three times.
She also regularly thanks her fans, who have donated money to help her on her journey.
“My journey as an independent skier would not be possible without you and I am very grateful!” she said in a holiday post.