All season long, moguls skier Brad Wilson tried to play it off that every contest was just another day at the office, but in the back of his mind he knew better. Wilson was chasing his second Olympic berth and instead knew exactly how difficult it would be.
“This season was insane pressure on just trying to qualify because I knew. I knew how hard it was to qualify and I knew what I need to do in order to qualify,” Wilson said Tuesday.
Four years ago when Wilson was part of the U.S. Olympic team that went to Sochi, Russia, he was just chasing in his older brother Bryon’s footsteps who had earned a bronze medal at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, Canada.
“You always tell people ‘Yeah, it’s not that big of a deal. I’m just going to go ski,’ but at the beginning of this year it’s like I have to ski well enough to qualify to go to the Olympics and then on top of that I have to go to the Olympics,” said Wilson. “But in my opinion, the hardest part is qualifying for it.”
This season, Wilson needed to make it onto the podium twice in order to be automatically named to the U.S. Olympic Team or have one of the top four athletes based on combined results to earn a spot to Pyeongchang, South Korea.
He landed on the podium with a third place finish Jan. 10 at Deer Valley in Park City, Utah where he lives and trains. He hoped it was going to be enough as they went through the rest of the contests over the next ten days. Turns out, now he’s headed back to his second Olympics as the top-ranked U.S. man.
“Once I got that call it was like ‘Alright, finally! Pressure is lifted, you know no worries, and now I can actually look forward to being a part of the Olympics again,’” said Wilson Tuesday from Utah.
Wilson will be joined on Team U.S.A. by fellow Montanans Maggie Voisin (Whitefish) and Darian Stevens (Missoula) who qualified in slopestyle skiing.
“The experience is insane. The Opening Ceremonies in Sochi was one of the greatest moments of my life,” said Wilson. “I can’t wait to experience the Opening Ceremonies in Korea. That’s something I really look forward to.”
But it’s not entirely all fun and games. In 2014, Wilson was unable to record a run after crashing on the first jump in preliminaries. He’d like to change that this time around.
“I obviously didn’t get a chance to show off what I was really about in Sochi,” Wilson said. “The sport has changed in four years and now it’s just a matter of putting down your best run and it’s all about that. And for me, if I go there and I put down my best run, then I’m so stoked.”
Over the next two weeks, all the moguls athletes will be in training camp in Park City simulating what the Olympics could be like with competition and training schedules fine tuning things in preparation for the big event.
Qualifying runs will be Feb. 9, the same day as Opening Ceremonies and if Wilson advances to the finals, he’ll ski again Feb. 12.
And although he’s now based in Utah, Wilson remains grounded with his Butte roots.
“I’m so thankful I have such a genuine community around me that I never have to worry about them changing. I’m still a Butte-rat you know? Nothing has changed from that,” Wilson said.
“I’d like to thank the community in Butte and Montana and just how supportive they’ve been with me throughout my entire career and not changing anything. Yeah, I’m an Olympian, but I’m still Brad Wilson, you know, I’m not special. They don’t treat you differently and I love that.”