The content and distribution of this story was paid for by Columbia Sportswear. All photos by Zach Doleac.
Entering her first Olympic year as a member of the U.S. Ski Team, 19-year-old aerials skier Winter Vinecki does not let her youth show. After all, the Michigan native began competing in triathlons at age 5 and at 13 became the youngest runner, male or female, to complete a marathon on all seven continents (and the younger half of the first mother/daughter team to do the same).
"I've always been the youngest in a lot of different things," says Vinecki. "I think it pushes me. There are a lot of athletes who have been doing these things for a while that serve as great models."
After meeting Vinecki at a Woman's Sports Foundation award ceremony in New York City in 2011, former U.S. Olympic aerialist Emily Cook convinced the young athlete to convert her physical abilities into aerials skiing. After joining the U.S. Developmental Team shortly thereafter, Vinecki, who grew up skiing at Boyne Highlands in Michigan, was hooked.
A natural athlete, she learned the sport quickly. Last year, the -19-year-old finished second at the FIS Junior World Ski Championships in Valmalenco, Italy. This year, she hopes to make an impact at the Olympics.
"Being an athlete, the Olympics are the culmination of years of hard work," says Vinecki.
But they are also something more than just competition for the teenager. Vinecki lost her father, Michael Vinecki, to an aggressive form of prostate cancer in 2009. It was his passing that inspired her to break the marathon record in his honor. His death also inspired her to start Team Winter, a prostate cancer research foundation that has raised over $500,000 to date, since its foundation eight years ago.
For Vinecki, the Olympics are not only a chance to showcase her athletic ability, but also to bring her cause to the world stage, something she hopes would make her dad proud.
Says Vinecki, "Getting to the Olympics is personal."
The elder half of the Wilson bump skiing duo, Bryon Wilson is on the brink of his second Olympic Games. The wily 29-year-old is a veteran of the U.S. Ski Team.
"It's funny how time works," says Wilson. "I am still a kid, but now I'm the oldest kid on the team!"
While Wilson has spent more than a decade on the U.S. Ski Team, it doesn't seem long ago that he first turned heads at the Olympics, earning a surprise berth to the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver, before powering his way to a bronze medal. Now, four years after not making the final roster for the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Wilson is back for redemption.
"I know what to expect," he says.
In addition to his Olympic hardware, Wilson has four World Cup podiums and a national championship to his name. He has battled injuries over the past few seasons, but says he is stronger mentally and physically than ever.
Wilson also finds motivation in one of his sport's most friendly sibling rivalries. Carrying on the Wilson moguls skiing tradition, Bryon's younger brother Brad is also a part of the U.S. Ski Team, skiing to multiple World Cup podiums and a 2017 World Championships silver medal. The two grew up crushing homemade bump lines near their Montana home now push each other to compete at the highest level.
"We have been through some tough times, but it's so much easier when you know someone is there that really cares," says Bryon. "It has been a huge part in our success."
When Wilson isn't snaking mogul lines around the world, he works as a professional artist, making and selling wood carvings from his Park City home. Wilson is also a director of ID One Pro Mogul Camp in Whistler, BC, where he helps groom the next batch of up-and-coming moguls skiers.
Standing atop the World Cup podium with American freestyle legend Hannah Kearney isn't the typical start to a World Cup moguls career, but that's exactly how Morgan Schild kicked things off as a 19-year-old rookie, winning the World Cup dual moguls event at the Tazawako, Japan, in 2015. But the accolades didn't stop at the podium.
"The funniest part was that a couple of weeks later, my mom called me to tell me Japan had sent me 60 pounds of local rice," says Schild. "I didn't know what to do with it all."
The young moguls skier from upstate New York would go on to take home 2015 World Cup Rookie of the Year honors. After suffering an injury in 2015-2016, Schild returned to form in 2017, scoring a World Cup podium in Lake Placid before grabbing another World Cup win, this time in the individual moguls competition at Deer Valley.
Dubbed "Warpaint" by her coaches for her intense focus in the gate, Schild started skiing moguls after her ski coach put her in a local moguls competition at Bristol Mountain in New York. From then on, Schild said her parents needed "to drag [her] out of the moguls every weekend."
Nearly a decade later, that passion may pay Olympic dividends, as the 20-year-old hopes to carry on the legacy of her mentor and mogul skiing's most prolific athlete, Hannah Kearney, and give back to her home mountain in the process.
"The Olympics have been a dream of mine for a long time," says Schild. "I hope I can get the chance to represent my amazing home mountain with some teammates that I learned to pizza and French fry with, and do it on the Olympic Stage."
Mac Bohonnon had all but written off the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, opting to get stronger and prepare for a podium push at the 2018 Winter Games as an upstart 19-year-old. But opportunity has a funny way of finding its man, and when a second-place finish in Val St. Come, Canada, sent him to Sochi as the U.S. Team's lone male aerialist, Bohonnon proved he was ready all along, narrowly missing the podium and finishing fifth.
"By no means did I have a chip on my shoulder or feel I had something to prove," says Bohonnon. "But I don't think anyone expected me to do that well."
Bohonnon proved the 2014 was no fluke the following year, taking home the 2015 overall World Cup aerials title as a 20-year-old. The Connecticut native added to the accolades in 2017, collecting a second-place finish in the overall World Cup aerials ahead of this year's Olympic push.
In a sport that requires calculation in between adrenaline rushes, Bohonnon credits his mental game with his rapid success on the international stage. Bohonnon's coach ahead of the Sochi Games, former American aerialist and 1998 Winter Games gold medalist Eric Bergoust, helped install that toughness early in the young skier's career, teaching him the importance of sports psychology.
"Our sport is scary--every jump is nerve-wracking" says Bohonnon. "At the end of the day, we crash a lot. We need to be able to take a hit and get back up with the confidence it takes to hit the jump again."
It's a mental toughness that has helped Bohonnon become one of the brightest U.S. aerialists in recent memory, and America's best chance at an Olympic medal since the late Jeret "Speedy" Peterson took home silver in front of the Vancouver crowd in 2010 (Bohonnon is currently mastering Petersen's five twist triple backflip known as "The Hurricane").
Asked if he is intimidated with the task, Bohonnon is blunt.
"Now that I have a chance to win," he says, "I'm prepared to win."