Twenty-five year-old Meg Olenick grew up skiing in Aspen, trailing her two older brothers. When they started doing tricks at the terrain park, Olenick followed suit. Soon, she was competing in slopestyle skiing around the world. The discipline is new to the Winter Olympics in 2014 and Olenick wants to be part of history in the making. Aspen Public Radio's Marci Krivonen reports.
"Growing up, I never thought I could be an Olympian because our sport wasn’t a part of the Olympics. And then, within the last two years, that’s all my eyes have been set on. And, it would mean the world to be an Olympian," says Meg Olenick.
The Carbondale native flies down a course of jumps and rails during Ski Slopestyle. In the event, judges look for difficulty and a variety of tricks, as well as how high off the ground the athlete can get.
"I would say I’m more of a rail person, I love hitting rails. I don’t know what it is, but you see this huge rail on the mountain, and think, ‘I’m going to go figure that out,'" she says.
"Before the Olympics came around it was the biggest contest of the year and you feel really cool. There are people everywhere watching, and for me, my first year in X Games, I was shocked that people were watching and cheering for you."
Following in her brother Peter’s footsteps, she’s competed in four X Games. Peter Olenick won gold three times at Winter X.
"I’d always wanted to be some sort of professional skier and ski my entire life and my brother and sister followed me the whole way through," Peter says.
Peter, who recently left the competitive circuit to coach, says his family is tight-knig. And, he’s coached his sister Meg for years.
"Since we were little skiing, we’d always help each other out and I’ve been there for her at the top of every run at X Games along with my brother, and I take time out of my busy schedule, as she does for me, and we’re there for each other when we go and compete," he says.
As long as she stays healthy, he says he thinks Meg has a good shot at making the Olympic team.
"She works harder than any person I’ve ever seen and loves skiing more than anyone I’ve known, even more than me."
Meg Olenick is already overcoming several injuries. She’s had five knee surgeries and two collarbone surgeries in recent years. Even though her latest knee injury kept her off of jumps for 18 months, now she says she’s recovered and ready to compete.
"I went through a lot of doubt throughout the last injury, but in the last four or five months, I’ve only felt confidence."
She must do well in five Olympic-qualifying events to nab one of four spots on the womens’ Ski Slopestyle Olympic team. The team will likely be named in January.
Outside of training and competing, Olenick is inspiring the next generation of female athletes. Two years ago, she created a girls’ camp in Carbondale called “It’s All About Her.”
"My goal was just to get girls involved with sports, any type of sports, get girls moving and being active, so they know they can be sports athletes as well," she says.
She’s hoping to revive the camp again in the summer of 2014.