‘Everything is how it should be:’ Steamboat skier heads to World Cup healthier than ever
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — When some skiers earn a spot at a high-level competition, they are just happy to be there to see where they stand compared to some of the best in their sport.
When Steamboat Springs moguls skier Maggie Ryan heads to her first-ever World Cup event in Deer Valley, Utah, she isn’t settling for a mediocre performance.
“I want to be competitive when I go there,” she said. “I don’t want to just go there for the experience.”
The 21-year-old competed on the NorAm circuit last winter, which she plans to do again this season, finishing fourth among freestyle moguls skiers. Her performance at the U.S. moguls selections at Steamboat Resort earned her a spot at the Deer Valley competition in Utah in early February.
Her coach, Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club freestyle skiing director Bobby Aldighieri, said Ryan has the chance to do well at Deer Valley, but it will take one of her best runs ever.
“It’s going to take a lot from her, physically, but more so mentally to do that,” Aldighieri said. “I do think she’s got that capability. It certainly will not be easy. She’s got to be gutsy and ski some of her best stuff.”
Between now and then, she’s spending 36 hours a week training to keep her speed up and perfect her tricks. She trains with the high performance team for six hours a day for three days straight. After a day off, they hit the slopes for another three days in a row.
She also spends about 10 hours a week taking classes online and doing school work. She’s nearly done with her junior year at Northeastern University in Boston, where she’s earning a degree in business management.
“She’s an extremely hard worker,” Aldighieri said. “She’s very, very diligent, and she’s been at it for a long time. I have a lot of respect for Maggie’s day-to-day work ethic and her persistence.”
This has been the hardest and most consistently Ryan has been able to train, because it’s the healthiest she’s been in years. She’s had some sort of injury bringing her down for most of her competitive freestyle skiing career.
In 2012, she had her right ACL and meniscus repaired. In 2014, she had surgery on her left shoulder. In 2018, her right meniscus was repaired again, and last spring, she underwent a second surgery on her left shoulder.
A simple pole plant popped Ryan’s shoulder out at the end of the 2019 season. By that point, she had lost count of how many times it had been dislocated.
“There wasn’t much holding my shoulder together,” she said.
Ryan worked at Lululemon this past summer, which helped pass the time as she rehabbed back from surgery. In November, she got the all clear to hit the snow again. Now, ahead of her World Cup debut, she’s feeling strong, and she’s feeling hopeful.
“I’m really confident with the work and gym stuff we’ve done this summer,” she said. “I know everything is how it should be right now.”
10 years in the making
Ryan grew up in Pittsford, a small town in Northwest New York. She started skiing with her family on the weekends at HoliMont, a small ski slope in Ellicottville. She would “ski around with the boys” at the park, hitting rails and jumps.
As suggested by a coach, Ryan spent some time with the freestyle ski team. It didn’t take her long to join in.
“I fell in love with it,” she said. “It’s very challenging. It’s pretty impossible to have a perfect run. I like the constant challenge.”
It quickly became apparent that Ryan had talent but training in upstate New York didn’t exactly breed high-level success. Luckily, Ryan’s coaches knew coaches in Steamboat, so during her junior year of high school, she moved to Colorado.
For the first two years in Steamboat, she stayed with a host family but now lives full time on her own. Her family is still in New York, but she sees them about five times a year between holidays and East Coast competitions.
At 21, Ryan has officially been competing on moguls for a decade.
“Ten years,” she said. “Woah, that’s crazy to think.”
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