Cooking up something good
November 26, 2010
If she’s not flying down icy slopes this season, Megan McJames may be doing something completely different she may be cooking an elaborate holiday meal.
The 23-year-old Park City alpine skier has aspirations on and off her skis this season.
On the slopes, it’s hard to imagine significant improvements for someone who has been already named to an Olympic team and named NorAm champion three times (2010 super combined, 2008 GS and 2006 overall). But her goal this year is to be ranked in the top 10 to 30 on the World Cup circuit.
Having changed her equipment in its entirety this season, she is currently breaking it all in, waiting for that perfect run when it all comes together.
"Right now, I’m just trying to get some miles on my equipment," she said.
McJames feels fully recovered from an untimely wrist fracture that occurred almost two years ago and sidelined her for two critical weeks during the tour. She was able to make a quick comeback but wasn’t able to recover the form she had before the break.
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"It put a little damper on the momentum I had. I’ve had some good momentum since then," she said.
That momentum carried her to Vancouver for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games and since she has qualified for a spot in the World Cup super combined in 2011.
"I really love the sport of the skiing," she said. "I love to be in the mountains."
McJames is adamant that enjoying her time on the ski team is just as important as being a consistent competitor.
"You’ve got to go along the journey. Just enjoy the ride," she said. "I’m still working really hard. If I don’t want win a lot of medals, I just want to look back on it with fondness.
"A lot of skiers, looking back on careers, end too early. I don’t want to end with any bitterness. It’s a really cool thing what we do."
As for the season that is currently underway, McJames feels no added pressure — just has another reason to go to work every day.
"It’s something that relaxes me," she said. "It’s not that bad of an office."
When she’s not passing gates at blistering speeds, McJames is enjoying her travels with the ski team, reveling in her unique chance to experience something that not many are able to.
She’s a fervent student of ski towns across the globe. And that’s where her affinity for the culinary arts developed.
McJames, who admits she is a "picky eater," began studying food a while back it’s what really gets her imagination going.
Her long-term goal once her days with the U.S. Ski Team are over?
"My dream has always been to go to culinary school," she said. "I have traveled to a lot of little ski towns through ski racing, and I think it would be fun to own a small café or bakery."
As for now, baking a warm chocolate croissant or making an elaborate holiday-themed latte will have wait McJames has bigger fish to fry.
As she was growing up, McJames admittedly had her sights set on the glory winning Olympic gold medals and such. Since then, it’s become more of an overall appreciation for what she’s already accomplished, what she will accomplish and the ride she’s currently enjoying.
"It’s kind of changing as I get older," she said.
McJames first strapped into a pair of skis at the age of two; her parents were both ski instructors at Alta.
"It was either day care or out on the mountain," she said.
She gives many people credit for her success, but she specifically pointed to the Park City community as a tipping point that helped her go from a local skier racer to a world-class Olympian.
"Everybody in Park City has always been behind me," she said. "I really think a reason that I’ve been able to be so successful is because I grew up in Park City skiing."
Growing up, McJames was a member of the Park City Ski Team and is a graduate of the Winter Sports School in Park City.
During the summers, McJames is a student at Westminster College, where she is looking toward finishing her degree in some sort of business specialty. She said she enjoys school, but understandably, it’s going slower than expected since she’s a full-timer on the slopes.
But who knows? That business acumen may be very useful when comes time to open up that little café she dreams about.