Maddie Bowman (USA) won gold in the first Women's Olympic Halfpipe. Here Bowman competes in her first run of the qualifications. PHOTO: Guy Rhodes/USA TODAY Sports

Maddie Bowman (USA) won gold in the first Women’s Olympic Halfpipe. Here Bowman competes in her first run of the qualifications. PHOTO: Guy Rhodes/USA TODAY Sports

Age: 19
Hometown: South Lake Tahoe, California
Olympic discipline: Halfpipe
Career achievements: 1st place, 2013 Dew Tour Breckenridge Halfpipe; Gold medalist, 2013 Aspen X Games Halfpipe; 1st place, 2013 Grand Prix Park City Halfpipe; 1st place, 2012 Dew Tour Killington Halfpipe

Maddie Bowman was a senior in high school when she won the Dew Tour Killington Halfpipe contest, and she hasn’t stopped since. Now that she’s enrolled at Westminster College in Salt Lake City and has X Games gold and first-place rankings on her resume, Bowman admitted she’s afraid to grow up. The 19-year-old channels that youthful outlook into her skiing, keeping it lighthearted even amid the pressures of a first-ever Olympic year.

I did the race team. It was a little too serious for me. That’s when I switched over to skiing park and halfpipe. The freeride team had this energy about them that was so fun.

The only reason I chose halfpipe is because I’m a little more competitive in it.

About three seasons ago, I did a couple bigger competitions like the Grand Prix. From there it fell into place. I started to qualify for other competitions and then it just took off.

Girl with the braid, Maddie Bowman.

Girl with the braid, Maddie Bowman. PHOTO: Sarah Brunson/USSA

I focused on my own skiing, learned some new stuff, and made some old stuff better. I think that’s probably what clicked for me.

As a kid you’re kind of like, ‘Well, I’m going to go to the Olympics when I’m older.” To maybe have that come true is unbelievable.

We get to show the world what we do and why we love the sport. Our sport was based on being different—coming from moguls and aerials. We like to be different; we have always liked that, and always want to be that.

Everyone is talking about, ‘If I win,’ so you never think about ‘What if I didn’t go?’ It would be very hard. Everyone’s worked so hard to make this possibility. I wouldn’t wish that upon anyone.