Watching Dara Howell come down the Olympic slope style course, professional skier Megan Gunning thought to herself, “Wow, so many girls are going to want be just like Dara!”
Gunning, a member of the Canadian half pipe team from Calgary, Alberta, was close to making turns in Sochi. However, due to a knee injury at the X Games before the Olympics, she was unable to compete on Russian soil. We caught up with Gunning to get her perspective on her teammates’ #roadtosochi:
What did you think of the female half pipe and freestyle events?
I was so proud everyone showcased what they can do. They skied with energy and were really going for it.
Who was the inspiration to all these female skiers?
It all started with skiers like Sarah Burke, Jen Hudak and Kristi Leskinen. They have been the founders of the community and made the sport more appealing to other girls.
You mentioned Sarah Burke’s influence at the Games…
(Burke is a four-time Winter X Games gold medalist, who was one of the pioneers of the superpipe event. In 2005, Burke passed away from a training accident, but is still an strong inspiration to female athletes on the slopes.)
Sarah’s light is huge. It was if she was present at the games. Her goal of getting freestyle skiing into the Olympics was carried on by each and every female skier. She brought love into the sport and that helped everyone (not just girls) come together. You could really notice at the top and bottom of the courses when all of the ladies were dancing and hugging.
How do you envision the level of skiing for the next Games?
I think the level can only increase. We will see more amplitude and stylized tricks.
Are you on the #roadtokorea?
Yes, but before I get there, I want to physically heal and mentally decompress. Life on the road, traveling from competition to competition, is really draining. Through this injury, I’ve learned what is missing from my competitive game. I’m going to dial in my mental edge, including practicing meditation.
Was it hard for you to watch the Olympics?
I was so pumped for all of my friends. However, it was one of the hardest days of my life. I was so close to participating and in thirty seconds, everything that I had worked for was gone. I keep replaying my crash at the X Games and questioning if I could have done something different. I know this will make me stronger and help me out in life.
What can people do to show their support for female skiing?
I personally love that people can reach out via social media. It’s so great to know that people out there support you. A tweet or comment on Instagram goes a long way. Additionally, I think people can join clubs and teams to continue to build and support the community.
Speedy recovery, Megan. We can’t wait to watch you compete again and continue to carry the light and love for the sport through the evolution of women in competitive free skiing.
Hero Image Photo Credit – Mike Ridewood/Canadian Freestyle Ski Association