Parkite Madison Olsen prepares for Winter Games with rest and soup
The Park Record
Last week was an exciting time to be Madison Olsen, regardless of how she was feeling.
The 22-year-old aerial skier had spent her day reclining and sipping soup in hopes it would speed her recovery from the flu.
“It’s getting better,” she said over the phone last week. “It’s kind of like you have all the symptoms of a cold but you are really run-down and achy.”
It was not how she imagined she would should feel after earning a spot on the Olympic aerials team, but it did not diminish the fact that she would be going to Pyeongchang for the 2018 Winter Games.
As a result, she missed what amounted to the first official Olympics freestyle ceremony, a meet-and-greet with fans and the media at Deer Valley Resort Jan. 23, opting instead to get some much-needed rest.
“I’ve been trying to avoid everyone else,” she said.
Olsen, who lives in Park City with her mom, stepdad and brother, earned her spot on the Olympic team in part because she was one of two American women to break into the super finals round at the aerials World Cup event at Deer Valley three weeks ago, where she placed fourth. She kept her high position on the team and secured her nomination after finishing 28th and 27th at consecutive World Cup events in Lake Placid, New York, on Jan. 19-20.
“It was the day after we got back. I was super sick on the couch all day, just wondering (if I would get the call),” Olsen said. “(My coach) called me around 4 or 5 p.m. and said, ‘Congratulations, you’ve been picked to be on the Olympic team.’ I think it was tough to tell how excited I was over my stuffy nose, but I was pretty excited.”
This is Olsen’s first Winter Games, though she is no stranger to competing at her sport’s highest level. She has competed in World Cup events since 2013, and took fifth at the World Championships in Sierra Nevada, Spain, last season.
Taking time off because of her illness did have its advantages — like allowing her plenty of time to think about what the Games will be like.
“I’ve been getting really excited,” she said. “But I still have no idea what to expect. Just being overwhelmed at happiness at the opening ceremony, and I have some family coming out and seeing them cheer me on will be super helpful.”
Olsen said she will have a strong following in South Korea, including her mom and her stepdad, their 7-year-old son, Olsen’s stepmom, father, and their two young daughters, as well as Olsen’s grandmother and a couple aunts and uncles.
Her mother, Judy Pavich, said having Olsen live at home has been fairly straightforward considering all the demands of being an elite athlete.
“It’s really her drive and her hard work that’s gotten her to where she is,” Pavich said. “I’ve never had to get her out of bed. … she’s just been really driven and I’m really proud of her.”
Pavich said on top of handling her athletic responsibilities, Olsen has been able to find enough time to be a big sister to her siblings.
“Madison is also an amazing support to her family,” Pavich said. “She helps Emily (her stepmother) out with her two younger (daughters), and we have a 7-year-old, and she’s great about spending time with all of them as much as she can.”
On the other hand, Olsen said she is able to draw comfort from being around her family.
“I really enjoy it,” she said. “It’s really nice to have that home support. All my brothers and sisters are always asking about what I’m doing.”
Now, she’s able to tell them she’s going to the Olympics, which, until recently was an uncertain prospect.
“I think I started to realize when she came home last year,” Pavich said of Olsen’s odds of going. “She had a pretty good season and she was coming back from a lot of injuries. … We booked our rooms in Seoul (South Korea) just in case. We booked them, I want to say, six months ago, just knowing this was a pretty good possibility.”
On Monday, Olsen had recovered enough from her illness to return to training, and to step back into the way she expected things to feel before her first trip to the Olympics.