Coaches Corner – Meet Megan McJames

February 5 2018 BY Keely

Monthly interviews from our all-star female staff on their backgrounds and how they are empowering, inspiring, educating, and connecting girls in skiing.

Meet Megan McJames

BIOGRAPHY:megan mcjames_6984 Megan McJames is a professional skier, biker, baker and adventurer!

FIRST TRACKS:
At two years old, McJames learned to ski at Alta Ski Resort in Utah. She grew up doing many outdoor activities, including mountain biking, hiking, camping, soccer, and tennis, but especially fell in love with skiing. McJames is proud to have represented the United States in the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver, the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, and four World Championship events, including 2017 in St. Moritz. Most recently, McJames won the women’s giant slalom at the U.S. Alpine Championships.

For the past four winters, McJames has been competing at the international level as an independent athlete, raising her own funding. Overcoming this challenge has been an exercise in athletic perseverance, passion, and work ethic. She believes that these traits translate from the athletic arena to the business world and, along with her athletic achievements, is a role model of these life skills.

OFF THE SNOW: 
In her off time, McJames is a student of finance at Westminster College, enjoys relaxing in the kitchen while baking, watching movies, and skiing powder.

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Keely’s Camp: You just qualified for your second Winter Olympics as an independent skier and without the support of the U. S. Ski Team. Needless to say, the odds were stacked against you to make the Olympic team. Where do you find your motivation? 

Megan at the opening ceremonies in Sochi in 2014.

Megan at the opening ceremonies in Sochi in 2014.

Megan McJames: I’m excited for the 2018 Olympics as they will be my third.  It takes a lot of work to maintain the highest level of sport (I’ve been racing world cup for 12 seasons), especially without U.S. Ski Team support and I feel very proud of this accomplishment. There are a lot of details to manage as an independent ski racer i.e. funding, equipment, training, dry land and travel logistics, but all of the work is worth it because I love skiing!  My main goal for this third Olympics is to give myself the opportunity to ski my best by soaking in the spirit of competition and really enjoying the Olympics games!  I am re-motivated to keep working when I have a run that I know was special even before I look at the time!

KCWho was your Olympic hero as a little girl? What stood out about this athlete to you?

MM: My Olympic hero is Sarah Schleper because she goes after what she believes in, no matter what people say behind her back!  2018 will be her 5th Olympic games!

KC: What are you most looking forward to while in South Korea for the the Olympics? How do you handle the pressure of big time events like the Olympics?

Watch Megan race in the Olympic Games Giant Slalom on February 12th, 2018!

Watch Megan race in the Olympic Games Giant Slalom on February 12th, 2018!

MM: The Olympics have a different and bigger energy than any other ski races I have been to!  It can be overwhelming, but being my third Olympics, I am anticipating the hype and am looking forward to soaking it all in and using the energy toward my skiing!

I am really looking forward to walking in to the opening ceremonies!

KC: How do you handle the pressure of big time events like the Olympics?  

MM: When I get nervous in the start gate, I put on a smile (even if it feels fake at first) and breathe deeply.  This tricks my body into calming down so I can focus on what’s important: skiing my best 🙂

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KC: You have coached for Keely’s Camp since 2012. How has teaching your sport helped you become a better skier?

MM: I love working at Keely’s Camp! Along with having tons of fun with the girls, coaching in the summer helps clarify what I am working on in my own skiing.  Coaching allows me to take the emotion out of ski racing and just focus on the technical/tactical ideas that are going to help the younger athletes get faster!

 

KC: We are always evolving and growing as athletes, that said, what is the greatest lesson you have learned while racing on the World Cup Tour?

MM: Confidence is more important than any technical or tactical skill.  At the World Cup level, everyone is good at skiing and the athletes that are really able to separate themselves are the ones who work hard and believe in themselves.  

Megan and Campers Sarah Azevedo and Maddie Utterback showing off their new camp swag.

Megan and Campers Sarah Azevedo and Maddie Utterback in Mt. Hood.

KC: If you could go back in time, what advice would you give your fifteen year old ski racing self?

MM: It IS cool to work hard! 

KC: What technical and tactical advice would you give an aspiring young skier?

MM: Give your body enough room at the gate to move! Strong, linked turns are always faster than going a little straighter!   

KC: What are you working on right now in your skiing? And what is your favorite drill?

MM: Staying level and square with my upper body at the top of the turn! Javelin turns are a great drill for this focus because they force you to balance over the outside boot/ski.  

KC: What do you like to do in the off season to unwind from your sport?

MM: On my off time, I am a student at Westminster College.  I enjoy relaxing in the kitchen while baking, watching movies, mountain biking and skiing powder at Alta Ski Resort.

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Megan at the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi.

KC: Lastly, if you could put a unicorn horn on any animal what animal would it be and why? 

MM: A turtle!  Although the turtle is slow,  she is steady and never stops progress toward her goals.  I think the turtle deserves a unicorn miracle!