Megan McJames finishes second Olympic season

Megan McJames poses for a picture at the closing ceremonies of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games. Photo courtesy of Megan McJames

Megan McJames, an alpine skier from Park City, has gotten to meet President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama twice once after she competed at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics and again a couple weeks ago after returning home from the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

If she sticks around and tries for a third Olympic appearance, she’ll be meeting a new president. But that’s not her main focus at the moment.

For now, the 26-year-old is concentrating on enjoying her offseason and preparing for a run at the 2015 Alpine World Championships, which will be held at Vail and Beaver Creek in Colorado.

"That’s going to be cool for American ski racers because I think it’ll get some attentions in the U.S.," McJames said. "It’ll be shown on TV and stuff, so I’d like to be there and qualify for that."

After some international exposure because of the Sochi Games, having ski racing on the minds of U.S. citizens two years in a row might help the sport gain some traction, she thinks.

Though McJames was somewhat disappointed in her Sochi results (she finished 30th in the giant slalom and didn’t finish her first run in slalom), she said her second Olympics experience was great.

"Just for me, personally, the first one [Vancouver] is always really cool, but this one meant a lot because, being an independent racer, I knew exactly how much work went into it," she said. "I was ready for that Olympic energy and tried to soak as much of it in as I could. I wish I was faster, but unless you’re a medalist, you always wish you were faster."

Upon returning home to Park City last week, McJames participated in last Saturday’s Olympic homecoming parade, which she said was an awesome experience.

"I was surprised by how many people came out," she said. "It was pretty cool. It was hard to write autographs, though, because none of the markers were working in the wet snow."

After being cut from the U.S. Ski Team a couple years ago, McJames spent this season racing as an independent, often going on the road with just her technician as a support staff.

"The challenge as an independent racer was to level the playing field with all the other people going for the Olympics," she said. "I think we did a pretty good job of that, but it was definitely a lot of work."

That work was all worthwhile in the end, she said, when she found out she was heading to Sochi.

"I was hoping for it because I was ranked third in the World Cup points for the country and you can take four for each event," she said. "But you never know until it’s written down on paper, so I was kind of watching the articles and when I read that I was on the team, I was really, really excited."

Next year, as she tries to qualify for the 2015 World Championships, the experience she gained this year will be invaluable.

"I learned that when you’re trying to be the best and taking risks, mistakes will happen, but it’s not the end of the world," she said. "I think we did a good job of that."

But, before she starts raising money for her 2014-15 season, McJames is going to relax and try to enjoy her summer in Park City.

"I have to figure out my plan for next year that will kind of impact my summer plans," she said. "I am going to do a little bit of coaching at Mt. Hood [at the Ligety Weibrecht Ski Camp] and I’m going to take some classes at Westminster. I’m just going to be home and not travel. I’m excited to be here and enjoy some warm weather."

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