McJames wins national giant slalom title
Parkite pushes through tough conditions for top podium spot
Parkite Megan McJames has learned a thing or two about determination throughout her career.
After being cut from the U.S. Ski Team four years ago, McJames felt she had fuel left in the tank. She started down the path of being an independent skier by using fundraisers and money from her own pocket to compete.
McJames wrapped up the season as an independent skier on Monday afternoon with the U.S. Alpine Championships in Sugarloaf, Maine. Though she had just completed a tiring Audi FIS World Cup circuit, the skier pushed through tough east coast conditions to earn the giant slalom title, McJames’ first national title for an individual event.
“I’ve been really proud of the way I’m skiing,” McJames said in an interview with the Park Record. “So yesterday, I wanted to win that title because I hadn’t before. … I think the one thing that I’ve learned in the last four years racing independently is perseverance is kind of the name of the game. I just kept chugging away at it.”
McJames finished with a combined time of 2:05.03, just .33 seconds ahead of former U.S. Ski Team athlete Foreste Peterson, who took second place. Top junior athlete Patricia Mangan completed the podium with a third-place finish, 1.82 seconds slower than McJames.
Though the snow McJames and company skied was solid, the conditions were less than ideal with high winds and low visibility in Sugarloaf. McJames said she paid extra attention to the conditions during her pre-race course inspection to find an advantage over her competitors.
“When I inspected the course, I thought, ‘I know which parts of the course I need to be smart and everywhere else I’m just going to go for it and go as fast as I can,’” McJames said. “That was the mindset I took into it because I think if you’re thinking about going for it and being aggressive, it makes it easier to deal with those conditions.”
Though she’s skied independently for the last four years, McJames isn’t oblivious to the fact she’s received a great deal of help to get her to this point in her career.
“The one thing I do want to stress is that, I am independent and [receive] no support from the national team, but I do have a lot of great support from the Western region and my family and my boyfriend,” McJames said. “They’ve all been awesome. That’s who gets me to where I am.”
With the season now completed, McJames plans on relaxing a little bit, which by her definition means moving to Valdez, Alaska, for the month of April to work at the Rendezvous Heli Ski Lodge.
“This is something I’ve never done before,” McJames said of moving to Alaska. “It’s a new experience.”
After that, the alpine skier knows it’s right back to work. Though she will take a little bit more time to rest following her return from Alaska, McJames knows the 2018 Winter Olympics are right around the corner. She hopes her efforts the last few seasons as an independent skier will land her a spot on the Olympic stage.
“I’m going to reevaluate and make a plan for next year,” McJames said. “I still have to make a plan with the details, but I think that I’m skiing well and I’m skiing happy. That’s the most important thing.”
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