Who is McRae Williams?
Name: McRae Williams
Country: United States
2016/17 AFP slopestyle ranking: 2nd
- 2017 World Championships slopestyle gold medalist
- 2017 FIS World Cup slopestyle champion
- 2015 AFP slopestyle champion
- 3-time X Games slopestyle medalist (1 gold, 2 silver)
Williams missed the cut for the U.S. Olympic slopestyle team in 2014. Should he make the team this time around, PyeongChang 2018 would be his first Olympics.
Coming off the best season of his career, Williams is a legitimate contender for a gold medal. There's a deep pool of talent in the men's ski slopestyle field though, so the competition will be tough.
Williams puts down clean, technical slopestyle runs, and his switch triple cork 1440 is one of the top tricks being done by any skier in the field.
Williams grew up in Park City, a popular ski town, and his father was highly influential in getting him to take advantage of all it had to offer. Williams went to an aerial program at the nearby Olympic Park when he was 8 years old, but it was the new-school tricks, like off-axis spins, that appealed to him the most. That's when he got a pair of twin-tip skis, hit the terrain park, and took up freeskiing.
Road to PyeongChang
Many athletes train for years and years with a single-minded goal of reaching the Olympics. For Williams though, things just happened to fall into place to make the Olympics a possibility. He originally didn't even know if competitions were actually something he wanted to do, but after qualifying for the Winter Dew Tour in 2009, he decided to just roll with it, try to pick up some sponsors, and see where it all took him.
By the time freeski slopestyle was added to the Olympic program ahead of the Sochi Games, Williams was already competing a high level. He came very close to making the Olympic team in 2014, but the depth of the U.S. slopestyle roster ultimately left him on the outside looking in.
Williams continued to perform at a high level, winning the AFP (Association of Freeskiing Professionals) slopestyle title in 2015, but the best was still yet to come.
2016/17 season recap
At 26 years old, Williams had the best season of his career. He grabbed a silver medal at X Games, he won a gold medal at the world championships, and he was the overall title winner of the FIS World Cup series. A consistent top-five finisher throughout the season, he was putting his talents to use like never before. According to Williams, the shift toward becoming a more consistent skier was the result of discovering a technique called mindfulness, which has become popular in the athletic world. He began practicing it and thinking positively, and it helped him overcome some of the mental struggles he had been facing during contests.
Off the snow
Living in Park City allows Williams to indulge in a variety of outdoor activities. He lists mountain biking, rock climbing, hiking, snowmobiling and slacklining among his current hobbies.
"I don't necessarily train, I just have fun, whether it be skiing park or backcountry all day during the winters, or participating in the many wonderful outdoor activities Park City has to offer during the summer." — McRae Williams on the "training" he does for slopestyle