Great Style Never Gets Old

Maggie Voisin, one of the nation’s best slopestyle skiers, is back on snow and stronger than ever

By DILLON TABISH for the Flathead Beacon

Don’t panic.

While undergoing surgery on a blown knee and extensive rehabilitation over the past 10 months, Maggie Voisin often reminded herself that time is on her side. It also heals all wounds.

Now the wait is over and it’s time to get back on skis and fly again. It’s time to be like Maggie again.

In early November, a month shy of her 17th birthday, Whitefish’s freeskiing phenom returned to the snow in Austria, joining the U.S. Freeskiing Team for two weeks of practice before the launch of the competition season.

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Maggie Voisin. Shay Williams photo | Courtesy Monster EnergyDrinks

Strapping into bindings for the first time in nearly a year with a new knee brace, she anxiously eased into her first downhill turns. Any uncertainty quickly vanished. When you’ve been skiing as long as you’ve been walking, you don’t forget.

Within a couple days, Voisin was zipping downhill and sliding rails in the terrain park, displaying the awe-inspiring skills that distinguish her as an Olympian and one of the best slopestyle skiers in the sport.

“It felt way better than I ever expected. That was a huge relief,” she said.

The precocious prodigy is ready for another winter of high-flying fun, although this season she has a different mindset than before.

Last winter, she entered winter surrounded by hype and expectations. Everyone knew her as the youngest member of Team USA at the 2014 Winter Olympics and the stylish star who earned silver at the Winter X Games after landing a switch 1080, a spinning aerial that has only been accomplished twice in competition.

Last winter, she entered winter surrounded by hype and expectations. Everyone knew her as the youngest member of Team USA at the 2014 Winter Olympics and the stylish star who earned silver at the Winter X Games after landing a switch 1080, a spinning aerial that has only been accomplished twice in competition.

“When I came back from the Olympics, I told myself I needed to get on as many podiums as possible,” she said. “This year it’s all about just getting back and taking my time. It’s just about having fun and enjoying skiing again.”

The new-age sport of slopestyle skiing is certainly one of the most spectacular events to watch and participate in, which explains the wave of athletes and fans that are pushing it further into the mainstream. But it has its drawbacks.

In a sport that demands risky tricks and airborne acrobatics, injuries are inevitable.

Since bursting onto the scene only two winters ago, young Voisin has already faced her fair share of setbacks. In a span of eight months, she suffered a broken leg while practicing at the Olympics and then blew out her knee at the start of last season.

But instead of letting the injuries stifle her passion or spirit, she has used them as opportunities for growth.

“Injuries happen. That’s something I’ve had to realize. The best part is you learn a lot about yourself,” she said. “It’s nice sometimes to take a step back and take a look at the big picture. There can be a lot of good to take out of an injury.”

Voisin spent several months in the Flathead Valley after her surgery, rehabilitating and regaining her mental and physical strength. She also enjoyed the normal day-to-day activities of any teenager, hanging out with friends and exploring the outdoors. But she also turned into a gym rat focused on cardio and weight training.

“One of the good things about the injury, it made me realize how much I need to take care of my body,” she said. “I’m definitely stronger than I was before I blew my knee.”

Voisin had plenty to motivate her but she also knew how important it was to ease back into the sport.

“I definitely wanted to get back on skis but I knew I need to be smart about that,” she said.

In the last month, she returned to Utah to train with other members of the U.S. Freeskiing Team. She visited Europe for the first time. She studied the competition schedule, mentally planning her calendar for the next four months.

The Dew Tour starts this month and the Grand Prix kicks off in January. Winter X Games is in late January.

These are all events floating around in her mind. But she is keeping her expectations modest. Her goal isn’t to prove anything or remind people that she is still one of the sport’s shining stars.

There’s still plenty of time for that.

“I’m just so happy to be back. People have asked if I’m done skiing. I laugh and say, ‘No, no, no.’ These injuries happen and it doesn’t make me hate the sport,” she said. “I love skiing as much as when I first started. I’m just so happy to be back and know I have many more years ahead of me.”