Q&A with Olympian Heather McPhie

Written by Anna Husted on  at

Amidst a hectic travel schedule, Olympian Heather McPhie had a chance to chat with Big Sky Resort about the upcoming Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, where McPhie will compete in Freestyle Moguls for team USA and represent Big Sky Resort as an official athlete ambassador.

Big Sky Resort is fortunate and excited to have you as our official resort athlete ambassador. What were your initial reasons or thoughts in partnering with Big Sky Resort?

Big Sky is such a natural fit for me as an ambassador and I am thrilled to be joining up with the resort. My family has skied together at Big Sky every Christmas we spent together (at some points more than 20 of us), and my passion for mogul skiing started on Mad Wolf. I love the terrain and the views. I've spent countless days there and have so many wonderful memories of my time skiing both in terms of the terrain and the incredible people I have been able to spend time with at the mountain.

As someone who has never been to a Summer or Winter Olympics, can you describe in five words or less what that atmosphere feels like? At the opening or closing ceremonies and on the slopes.

These are really tough questions ... I feel like I could write book on it. I'll give you a few options: Electrifying positive spirit. The celebration of human potential. Once-in-a-lifetime moments.

Because the Olympics are a time when the average American watches sports they would not normally watch at a professional level, how do you think that impacts your sport? What would you say to people to encourage them to watch year-round and/or to just watch your event in the Olympics?

Our sport is so fun to watch. It is fast (less than 30 seconds), and you can see the entire course from top to bottom. You will see people on their edge, more twists and flips than you will most likely be able to name or count, and the crowd always has a good time. In terms of the Olympics, the intensity of any athlete, in any sport, at those pivotal Olympic moments is a memory and a feeling that can stick with you for life. Plus, Women's Freestyle Moguls is the first medal given at the Olympics, which is pretty cool.

What do you do to mentally recover from a loss or an injury?

The simple answer: I keep going. I put on good music, write in my journal, and evaluate the situation. I evaluate if it is something I need help with from a physical therapist, my strength coach, my on-hill coach, or my sports psychologist. If so, I reach out as soon as I can and make a plan. I feel the best and most confident when I feel in control of my career and my experience. Often when I'm facing something hard or scary I think of the quote, "Do what you can, where you are, with what you have" (Theodore Roosevelt). If I'm attentive to each moment and doing everything I can think of each step of the way, what else can I ask of myself? That gives me comfort.

What is one superstition or habit you do before each competition?

When I am at the top of the course I close my eyes and think of people who have supported me along my way. Some people pop into my mind almost every time, but it is amazing how often different people from all areas of my life and my support crew show up. This almost always puts a smile on my face and reminds me how grateful and how lucky I am to be doing what I am doing. After that, I take a deep breath, place my fingers to my eyes as a cue for focus, and let everything else go.

We wish Heather the best of luck and good will in the Olympics in February. Join us in the Talus Room at the Summit Hotel on Saturday, Dec. 21 for a meet-and-greet and Q&A with McPhie and bid on some amazing silent auction items to support McPhie's Olympic Expenses, Big Sky Youth Empowerment, and Eagle Mount. For more details check out the Big Sky Resort Events Calendar.
-Anna

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