One of the biggest revelations this season in Freestyle skiing is Canadian-born Megan Oldham. The 21-year-old young lady from Ontario already won major prizes during her young career, her first World Cup Slopestyle win in 2019, and she even won the Slopestyle Crystal Globe that year. This winter season she made again a name for herself in the Freeski sport with her victories, podium places, and landing a first in a contest.
Megan Oldham is a member of a group of young progressive riders who are attacking the boundaries in freestyle skiing. Already lifting her sport to new heights, she has just started and we can expect so much more from her in the near future.
When you were a child and teen you did gymnastics and figure skating, were you as talented in those sports as well as you are in Freeski?
From a young age, I started both gymnastics and figure skating. The thrill of being in the air, flipping and spinning excited me. I also loved the self-expression of figure skating where you could create a routine and perform to an audience, much like skiing. Both these sports were at a competitive level for approximately 6 years, although never at the same level as my skiing career. The competitions were at local and provincial levels, but more than anything just for fun.
When I found skiing, it was a perfect mix of those two sports I already loved. From that moment on, It was all in on my ski career and slowly drifted away from gymnastics and figure skating.
What impact did your brothers have that made you become one of the world’s best freeskiers?
Both of my brothers had a huge impact on my ski career. Growing up with an older brother pushed me to get outside of my comfort zone. I was always trying to keep up with him because I wanted to be involved in all the action. My oldest brother Bruce was the one who got me into Freestyle skiing in the first place, so I owe my career to him.
He started for fun with a local team and essentially kept pestering me to try the sport until I finally caved. He somehow knew that I would love the sport and boy was he right. Ever since then, he has been my biggest supporter, someone I can go to when I need advice about tricks, a little confidence boost, or just someone to talk with.
Which slopes can we find you when you don’t have contests and what is your home mountain that you always come back to?
My home mountain is Mount St. Louis Moonstone in Ontario. When I am not traveling, you can find me here riding with my brothers and friends. It is always nice to come home and ride back to the mountain where it all started. The park is really good and the laps are fast so it's always a good time.
When you were 15 years old you started to become serious about a career in Freeski, what made you realize that you have the talent and will to compete at the highest level?
I think the craziest part of my ski career is that I never really had a moment of realization that I was good enough to compete at the highest level. I simply loved the sport and was solely focused on progressing for the fun of it. I rode at my local hill Mount St. Louis Moonstone with friends and a local team for a couple of seasons and progressively learned new tricks.
There was never a plan set out to reach a high level, it kind of just naturally happened, and felt like one day I opened my eyes and was there. I think the first moment I saw a competitive future in the sport was when I was approached by the National Team. They helped accelerate my career to the point it's at now.
“She landed a left-side triple cork 1440 while competing in Women’s Ski Big Air” when you read this what comes up into your head?
When I hear those words, my brain goes into complete shock…it doesn’t seem real! So much hard work had gone into this one moment that looking back my heart is so full. It’s kind of a funny story because when I first went to Momentum Ski Camp we did a workshop where we had to create a ski journal and write down our goals and dreams within the sport. In mine, I wrote that I wanted to be the first woman to land a triple cork. I found this journal again in the summer and rekindled the dream. I made a risky decision to fly to Australia to train the trick on an airbag leading up to the X Games.
It was ambitious to learn this trick and be confident with it, given I only had a few weeks of preparation. When I showed up at X-Games I felt prepared yet still nervous. On the day of the comp, I felt so focused and in the moment that I knew it was the right time to try it for the first time. I was nervous, yet calm. When I landed the trick on the snow I felt so many emotions at the same time. Excitement, relief, disbelief, and pure shock. Certainly, a moment I will never forget.
When will women land Quad tricks, what do you need extra to land those tricks (Triple and Quad)?
Honestly, I think it will be a long time before women are landing quads. Going from triples to quads is a big jump and in all honesty, I don’t think the courses and jumps we ride are built to allow athletes enough time to perform this rotation. Likewise, I feel that a lot of athletes including myself would prefer to see skiing transition to a more creative unique stream, rather than simply bigger is better.
Nowadays you are seeing boys performing bring-back rotations (where you stop your rotation mid-air and rotate back in the other direction). I would love to see women’s skiing pushed in this same direction.
The level in Freeski is extremely high at this moment with you ladies. Let’s say 8 ladies can win every contest in a season. How do you co-op with this?
Yes, sometimes it can be overwhelming with the amount of physical and mental work that goes into a season. We are on the road almost 24/7 which can become mentally taxing sometimes but the thing I find that helps me keep a good mindset is allowing time to do different activities.
For example, I spend so much time in a winter environment living high pace so I like to find time to slow down, go somewhere warm, and enjoy walks, yoga, etc. I also find that spending time with friends and family gives me a good reset.
What are your most memorable victory and moment in your career?
My most memorable victory was no doubt X Games Big Air this year. I put so much time and dedication into learning the triple cork, so to be able to land this trick meant the world to me. I also had so much support behind me which made the moment that much more magical. When I told my brother, filmer, and coach that I wanted to perform this trick at X Games they all dropped everything and put their lives on hold to travel with me to train. I also shared my plans with all my sponsors who were behind me and cheering for me through the process.
I had my family, agent, and sponsors all at the bottom of the course when I landed the trick so it was incredible to feel their love and encouragement at the moment. Likewise, a moment I will never forget is my brother jumping over the fence and giving me the biggest hug. I felt so much emotion at the moment and couldn’t have asked for a better support team.
How would you describe your style of skiing?
My skiing style is technical, smooth, and flowy. I try to be light on my feet but aggressive with take-offs.
You will become 22 years this year so a long career to go. What can we expect from you? What are your goals and dreams for the future in Freeski?
At this moment in my career I am trying to just enjoy myself and not put too many expectations on myself in terms of results. Focusing on keeping my progression going in the same upward direction, but mainly trying to enjoy the ride. Seizing every opportunity that presents itself and working towards tricks that excite me.
Certainly focused on the next Olympics and trying to be at my best for that time frame. Besides that, I am looking to discover some different areas in skiing, such as street and backcountry riding. Hopefully, put out a movie segment at some point.
Which athletes did/do you look up to and are still an inspiration for you? What is it about these athletes that they inspire you?
One athlete that I have always looked up to is Kaya Turski. She has paved the way in women's Freeskiing by pushing the boundaries of the sport. She was one of the first women to land a double cork, alongside Lisa Zimmermann.
She was also a badass rollerblader and has some crazy ski street segments, something that was rare for women back in the earlier stages of the sport. She has inspired me to break down my walls and get outside my comfort zone.
When the winter season is over, what do you do in the Spring and Summer months?
When the winter season is over, I typically go home for a couple of months and enjoy some downtime with friends and family. Living on Georgian Bay my free time includes a lot of time on the water, either wakeboarding, boating, or just enjoying the sun!
In reality though, our sport never really stops. I still have training camps in the summer, typically on the airbag as well as lots of dry land training to stay in good physical shape.
Do you study?
Currently not studying, although completed my grade 12 year while skiing on the Canadian National Team, it was difficult to focus on school while being on the road training, although it taught me valuable lessons in time management and discipline that I feel has helped my ski career.
The plan is to go to University and hopefully balance school and skiing, although, for the time being, I am focusing on my ski career, while I discover what education route interests me.
Are you involved in social projects?
I am passionate about keeping women's freeskiing alive. I think that Freeskiing is an undersaturated sport, especially on the female side. That said, whenever I have time at home I involve myself in girls' ride days, female camps, etc.
There is a group called Girlstylerz back home that aims to showcase, celebrate, and empower girls and women of Freestyle skiing. I have done a few workshops with them where I talk to the girls about my personal experiences and lessons I have learned.