Who is Kiley McKinnon?
Name: Kiley McKinnon
Country: United States
Sport: Freestyle Skiing
2016/2017 FIS World Cup ranking: 9th
- 2015 World Cup aerials champion
- 2015 World Championships silver medalist
- 7 World Cup podiums (as of 2016/17 season's end)
Due to injury, McKinnon was unable to compete at the Winter Olympics in 2014. Therefore, PyeongChang would be her first appearance.
McKinnon has been a strong force on the World Cup circuit the last several years. After multiple podium finishes in 2015 and, more recently, a fourth-place result at the 2017 World Championships, McKinnon is one of Team USA’s top medal contenders in aerials for the 2018 Winter Games.
McKinnon started skiing when she was 3 years old. Some of her earliest memories of snow involve spending weekends learning how to ski with her father in Vermont. She was first introduced to aerials at age 16, and it was her first-grade classmate, fellow U.S. national team member Mac Bohonnon, who helped spark her interest in the sport. Bohonnon suggested that she visit Lake Placid and train with the U.S. developmental team. As a gymnast for nine years, McKinnon loved the challenge.
"I can distinctly remember watching someone go off the single jump and do a back layout. As soon as I saw that, I knew it was what I wanted to do." McKinnon told NBC Olympics.
During the 2011/12 season, McKinnon joined the Elite Aerial Development Program and moved to Lake Placid and then Park City, Utah, where she began her ascent up the rankings for aerial skiing. Two years later, she was in contention for an Olympic berth in Sochi, but an elbow injury ended her season a few weeks before Olympic team selection.
McKinnon’s career in aerials progressed fairly quickly. Her breakthrough moment came when she won the World Cup Crystal Globe during just her third full year on the circuit in 2015. She finished on the podium at five out of seven World Cup competitions that season.
"My perfectionism helps me and it's also a curse for me. Because with our sport being so much about perfection, that's what I'm always striving for in everything I do. So it helps me train harder and work harder." — McKinnon on how she stays motivated
"There is a lot of fear in aerial skiing. And I think we all overcome it and deal with it in different ways and a lot of it is your teammates. We motivate each other. For me personally, visualizing in my head and thinking about the thousands of times I've done it on water and how many times I've landed on my feet just to tell myself that I can do the trick. And if I'm confident, then it'll come and I'll land it on my feet." — McKinnon on overcoming fears