By Joseph T. O’Connor Explore Big Sky Senior Editor
Bozeman native Heather McPhie has made the cut. The U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association announced on Jan. 21 the nominations of nine athletes to the U.S. Olympic Freestyle Team headed to the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.
McPhie, Big Sky Resort’s ski ambassador, and a 2010 winter Olympics competitor, was named to the four-competitor women’s moguls team, a spot she was unsure of attaining after a rocky World Cup season.
“I’m really grateful,” McPhie, 29, told EBS following the announcement. “I didn’t set myself up very well this season with my results and really felt like it could go either way. I didn’t know if they would take four women for moguls.”
After finishing seventh and sixth in the first two moguls events in Ruka, Finland and Calgary, Canada, respectively, McPhie took fourth place in the Jan. 9 singles event in Deer Valley, Utah. But she was disqualified after a fall during the dual moguls competition at the same venue on Jan. 11. Since, she’s finished 15th at Whiteface Mountain, N.Y. and 10th in Val Saint-Come, Canada.
After the final Olympic qualifier in Val Saint-Come on Jan. 19, McPhie was tied with Eliza Outtrim and Sophia Schwartz in the overall qualification process.
“She had enough points to make it and had enough of a track record internationally on the World Cup,” said Tom Kelly, Vice President of Communications for USSA. “It was very close [but] it’s a testament to the overall team, competing as well as they did.”
McPhie joins Hannah Kearney, Heidi Kloser and Outtrim as the U.S. women’s moguls representatives at winter games in Sochi. Women’s moguls competition kicks off the games with a qualifier on Feb. 6, a day before the opening ceremony. The finals will be held Feb. 8.
Hannah Kearney is the only U.S. Freestyle Ski Team member who clinched a berth to Sochi, automatically qualifying for the Olympics by earning at least two podium finishes in World Cup Qualifying events this season. The remaining three American women were picked by discretionary decision by U.S. Ski Team coaches, Kelly said.
The key factor in the decision making process is whether coaches felt an athlete had the capability to win in the Olympics, Kelly added.
“I’m all in,” said McPhie, who competed in her first Olympics in Vancouver in 2010. “I have nothing to lose. I feel so much lighter than I did [in World Cup competition] and will give it everything I have.”
Joining McPhie in Sochi will be Butte native and fellow bumps skier Bradley Wilson, as well as 15-year-old slopestyle skier Maggie Voisin, the youngest U.S. Olympic Winter Games athlete since 1972. Voisin hails from Whitefish.
EBS will update Olympic coverage at explorebigsky.com as information becomes available.