Megan Oldham grew up in Parry Sound, Ontario. She was raised by a supportive, nurturing, and highly active family. She is the middle child, with two brothers – Bruce and Cody. Megan started skiing at a young age, but as a kid, she was more into figure skating and gymnastics – skiing was more of a fun hobby she did with her family at Mt. St. Louis Moonstone and on family trips out west to Revelstoke. It was actually her brother, Bruce Oldham, who was the ski-aholic in the family. Bruce encouraged Megan to ditch skating and gymnastics for freeskiing.
So Megan, when did you make the decision to dedicate yourself to skiing? How did that transition happen?
I made the decision to dedicate myself to skiing around the age of 15. I grew up skiing with my family during annual holidays out West. I always enjoyed skiing but never really thought much of it. I was heavily focused on my passions for figure skating and gymnastics at that point in time. My older brother Bruce eventually found his way into the ski world and began pestering me to give it a try. I told him I wasn’t interested, but he continued to press me. Eventually, I gave in and agreed to come do a trial day with his team. I instantly fell in love with the sport! I enjoyed it so much that I dropped figure skating and gymnastics the following year and put all my focus into progressing in the ski world. The rest is history.
How has your gymnastics and figure skating background influenced your skiing? How does the vibe differ?
I think my background in figure skating and gymnastics has greatly influenced my ski career. Gymnastics and figure skating both laid a great foundation of skills that transferred over when I transitioned into skiing. As a young kid doing gymnastics I learned a lot about air awareness, body positioning, balance, and most importantly, how to fall correctly. It sounds like a weird skill to learn, however, it has saved me countless times from avoiding serious injuries. Having awareness of where you are in the air and being able to absorb impact correctly play a major role in athlete longevity. Likewise, figure skating taught me all about rotation, artistic flow, presentation, etc. All these skills transitioned into skiing when I made the switch and are a big reason I believe I was able to excel so quickly. That being said, one big fundamental difference between these sports is the environment. Skating and Gymnastics are both very structured, strict, and obedient sports in comparison. You are taught to follow the rules, do as you are told, and success will follow. For instance, with gymnastics you could never wear nail polish at competitions, only certain hairstyles were acceptable, you couldn’t use music with lyrics in your routine. Skiing, however, is on the complete opposite side of the spectrum. It’s a creative sport that encourages self-expression and style. The atmosphere between athletes is very different as a result. In the Figure skating and gymnastics world the other teams are seen strictly as competition and therefore your enemy. Everyone in the ski world, however, is very friendly, inviting, and overall kind. This has to be one of my favorite things about the sport!
You won the Crystal Globe in your first year on tour. What is a Crystal Globe and how did you manage to get so many points in your rookie season on tour?
The Crystal Globe is a trophy given to the athlete on the circuit who accumulates the most FIS points throughout the World Cup season. You get points based on your ranking results at World Cups. Essentially, the person who gets the most podium results throughout the season will win. In my case, I wasn’t even aware of the award that first season on the team and it was a complete shock to me that I won. I remember I landed a great run at the last World Cup of the season and I got to the bottom of the course and one of the organizers told me they did the calculations and were pretty sure I won. Sure enough, he was right, and the funniest part was that I only won by one single point. Typically you gain a few hundred points per competition, so the chances of winning by a single point are so rare.
How did you get to such a high level so quickly?
I truly believe that my rapid progression came from my background in Figure Skating and Gymnastics. I gained a lot of experience with air awareness and body positioning. I learned how to flip from gymnastics and how to spin from figure skating. Essentially when I made the switch to skiing I just had to learn how to transition those same skills, but with skis on my feet. That being said, I will admit that I had a difficult time when it came to learning how to spin off axis on skis (for bio, cork, rodeo axis’) I was only ever taught to flip and spin on axis in my previous sports so this was an unfamiliar feeling for me. I spent lots of time training on a trampoline with my brother to get comfortable doing so. Likewise, the idea of grabbing was foreign to me. You never grab during gymnastics or figure skating, in fact, you are taught to be straight as an arrow. You get deductions for not having perfect upright body positioning. This habit was a hard one to break but I am slowly improving this skill with time.
Was 2023 your best season yet? What made last year so great?
The 2023 ski season was by far my most successful season to date. I felt like things just started to click. I focused a lot of my attention in the off-season working on fundamentals like my switch take-offs, my axis control, and grabs. I also was able to learn a bunch of more technical jump tricks on the airbag which transferred onto snow early in the season. I felt as though I gained confidence on the snow and finally was able to flow my tricks and land more clean and technical runs. I ended the season with 2 World Cup podiums, Silver and Bronze at World Championships, and double gold at X-Games. On top of that, I got the opportunity to take part in a lot of other fun ski events and film projects that aren’t necessarily tied to the competition side of the sport. I did a few film shoots with my sponsors, attended the Nines (One of the most creative and insane course builds in the world), and even got to film for the first time with TGR, which is a ski/snowboard film production company. Certainly going to be hard to top this season!
Your triple cork 1440 high mute was not only super technical but it looked so stylish too. What did it take to bring that trick to reality? Did you have any inspiration pulling you to that particular axis and grab combo?
Taking this trick to reality was not something I expected to happen this season, but I got the urge mid way through that the time was right so I dedicated all my energy into making it happen. As a young kid I dreamt of being the first woman to land a triple, and even wrote it in my journal the first summer I attended Momentum Ski Camps. I tried the trick for the first time on the airbag in the summer leading up to this season more as a joke than anything else. I was shocked by how close it was and decided a few months later that if I wanted to do it, X-Games would be the best place! In December I scrambled and put a plan together. I flew out to Australia for 2 weeks and trained the trick
Did you ever do it on snow before X-Games big air finals?
No, I never tried the triple on snow before X-Games. The first one you saw in the Big Air competition was the first one I ever attempted. I considered trying it in practice but ultimately decided that I would be more focused and determined in the heat of the competition atmosphere with the crowd and added adrenaline.
What was running through your head as you were dropping in, about to throw the most difficult trick ever done and with millions of people from around the world watching?
Ummm definitely thinking “I hope I don’t die” haha. No, but seriously I was a little scared and anxious of getting injured in front of everyone watching. That being said, I tried not to let those intrusive thoughts control me. I focused on what I knew I needed to do. I told myself that I had put in the work and that my body knew exactly what to do. I took deep breaths and visualized the trick in my head before dropping in. I felt calm and focused in the moment so I knew I was ready. I couldn’t even hear the crowd because I was so in my own world.
What are your plans for the upcoming 23/24 season? Are you working on any project we can look forward to?
My plans going into the 23/24 season are to keep my momentum rolling. I want to build off my progress and continue to push myself to learn new tricks, train harder, and enjoy every moment. Likewise, I am currently working on a film project surrounding my experience at X-Games landing the triple and the whole process that went into that. I can’t wait to share this with the rest of the world!
For all the up-and-coming skiers out there, what does it take to make it to the top of the food chain as a top-level comp skier like yourself? And how do you maintain skiing at a super high level?
I think being at the top level of competitors takes a lot of hard work and dedication. I would say the biggest factor is simply your passion. If an athlete is extremely passionate about their sport then it makes working towards it so much easier. Don’t people always say, “If you do what you love, you won’t work a day in your life.” The same is true for sport. If you love your sport then working hard towards it is all part of the fun, and the success will follow. I recommend working hard to nourish your passion for sport. Find ways to keep it exciting. Maybe that means switching it up sometimes, taking vacation breaks, going to different training locations, etc. Likewise, there are lots of daily practices and routines you can follow that help get you to the top level. For me that’s; going to the gym regularly, eating clean, stretching, visualization, etc. I am also a firm believer that mental games plays a huge role in body capabilities. If you believe in yourself and abilities, your body will achieve them. Talk with a Sports Mental Coach to learn how to best harness your mental abilities.
Thank you, Megan!
Megan is currently working on a film that follows her on the path to becoming the first female to stomp a triple cork, as well as to being the first woman to score a perfect 50-point score X Games competition. Get it Megan!