Q&A with Morgan Schild
With Hannah Kearney retired, the U.S. women's moguls team is in search of an heir apparent. As the PyeongChang Olympics approach, Morgan Schild hopes to prove that she's the one.
Earlier this year, we sent Schild a list of questions. Here's what she had to say.
What propelled you to dedicate your life to mogul skiing?
I think it was when Hannah Kearney won gold in Vancouver. I remember watching the moguls and aerial event where Jeret "Speedy" Peterson threw the hurricane as a jump (five twists, three flips). We were at a mogul event in New Hampshire watching from a tiny TV in the lobby. I had met Hannah before, training at the Lake Placid Olympic Training Center ramping. She was so intimidating but had such a strong work ethic. I knew I wanted to be like her and get a gold medal, but I was ages away from that. I was 12 at the time and became addicted ever since.
What was the breakthrough moment in your career?
My first NorAm, I qualified first. No one expected that, not even myself. I was an East Coast weekend skier until I was 16 and was only 15 at the time. I had a blast and ended the international competition in 11th, but I saw myself being much better if I started to train full-time like the rest of the field.
Did anyone ever tell you that you wouldn’t be able to succeed in mogul skiing?
I was told by my high-school English teacher (Mr. Davidson) that I should quit skiing and get back to reality. I was so sad and angry that he set off a fire inside me. I knew that one day, I was going to laugh in his face and prove him wrong. That year, I made the U.S. Ski Team and the next year, I won my first World Cup.
I was told by my high-school English teacher that I should quit skiing and get back to reality.
What would people be surprised to learn about training for the Olympics?
There is NO off-season. We train 12 months a year. We water-ramp in the summer and travel in search for snow all year. Mogul skiing is a very risky sport and we have to be prepared for gnarly crashes, so our strength is very important.
Is there anything you do for training that’s out of the ordinary or experimental?
When I was growing up, I continued to play as many sports as I could. My first year on the national team I played varsity softball, soccer and Nordic skiing. Also I have a gymnastics background and I really like to tumble.
Any misconceptions about mogul skiing you'd like to clear up?
The progression in girls' mogul skiing is on its way up. I think besides myself, there are three girls who compete an off-axis rotating trick on the World Cup level. Nearly all the boys compete these jumps. The funny thing is, the top 15 girls all have alternative harder tricks they have learned, but don't have to throw them so they continue to do 360s. This will change in two years, I guarantee it.
Have you ever been seriously injured?
I had a season-ending injury two years ago (March 24, 2015) in Valmalenco, Italy at the junior world championships. I crashed in training and tore my left ACL with a partial tear in my meniscus. I also had a grade-A AC tear in my left shoulder. I was sent home on the next flight and my teammates actually rolled me around on a skateboard. This injury took me out of competition for 22 months. I had another surgery right before the 2016/17 season started to clean up my knee.
Who do you socialize with most?
My teammates and my freeskiing friends are who I socialize with the most. When I blew my ACL, I did my recovery in Park City, Utah with a PT named Jen Kimble. During this recovery, I became very good friends with the other girls who were recovering from an ACL tear. Those good friends kept me inspired and normal. We had a circle that understood exactly what each other were going through. We spent eight months with each other in the gym, hiking, going on trips and making the best of the time we had outside of our sport. Those girls are Julia Krass, Maggie Voisin, Darian Stevens, Zoe Kalapos, Maddie Bowman.
How do you achieve daily goals?
I think about a skill I need to improve and focus on that until I get it. This involves some resilience because it can be very frustrating to continue working on something difficult. I like to keep things positive and if a certain goal I had at the beginning of the day is not working out, I have to move on to another goal to keep my sanity. This way I can still be productive and keep training effective.
Biggest fear when competing?
My greatest fear is to have my best not be good enough. I know and believe that if I ski my best run, it will win. Coming back from injury, I had a huge fear that I would not be as good as I once was.
Any pre-competition rituals?
I like to listen to music and play with my coach's lucky toy race car.
Do you have a nickname?
"Warpaint." My entire Vail team calls me this because I'm a very happy and easy-going person, but when I get into competition mode, I get very focused as if I put war paint on. My Vail coach came up with it. Also my other nickname is "Shoulders." That one is kinda self-explanatory, but it's because I have large shoulders.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
"Smile, breathe, have fun." These are the key words my coach tells me at the beginning of every competition run. If you're not having fun and doing what you love, it's not worth it.
Scooby-Doo. Grease. Rock of Ages.
Favorite TV shows?
Friends. Gossip Girls. Bones.
What will success look like for you in PyeongChang?
Gold. I want to win gold.