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The City Journals

Westminster sends 18 Olympians compete in PyeongChang

Mar 12, 2018 04:18PM ● By Natalie Mollinet

Maddie Bowman is a junior at Westminster College working on her major in biology while competing in the Olympics. (Photo courtesy Maddie Bowman)

Utah is known for its snow and world-class skiing and snowboarding, so it’s no surprise that 18 Olympians from Westminster College competed in the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea. 

Westminster College and U.S. Ski & Snowboarding have helped national athletes not only achieve excellence in the classroom but on the slopes. U.S Ski & Snowboard is an Olympic sport organization that’s based in Park City, but works with thousands of young skiers and snowboarders to help them excel in their sport and reach their dreams. With the help of Westminster College, athletes have the opportunity to excel in school too. There have been more than 140 U.S. Ski and Snowboarding athletes who have attended the college and the number keeps growing. 

“I’m super grateful to get one-on-one time with professors who appreciate what I do,” said Abby Rinquist, a U.S. ski jumper who is also an art major at Westminster. “They’re all supportive of the dreams that I have as a student and the dreams that I have as a person and an athlete.” 

The 18 students were nominated for the 2018 team last week and will represent the United States in giant slalom, moguls skiing, snowboarding and Nordic (cross country skiing and ski jump). The athletes train at the Center of Excellence in Park City while they study at Westminster and must maintain an average GPA of 3.6. Megan McJames, a three-time Olympian, amateur baker and a junior in finance says going to school helps balance time with her practicing and helps her realize that there’s life beyond skiing. 

“As an athlete, school has been a great outlet for me to take a break from thinking about skiing all the time and realize there is other stuff out there,” McJames said. “It has given me skills that translate into making me who I am.”

“I think the type of person that I am – and most athletes are – is a little type-A,” McJames said. “We like to do our best at everything. When you’re pursuing your best in sports, those skills translate into school and vice versa.” 

At Westminster, the students who have competed in the previous two Olympic winter games brought home medals. During the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, 14 students competed and earned one bronze medal. In the 2014 games in Sochi, 23 students competed bringing home two gold, one silver and one bronze, adding to the 28 total medals the U.S. brought home. 

Not only will the world be watching local athletes compete, but the school will be cheering them on as they pursue their dreams. The 18 athletes who represent Westminster and the United States are: Maddie Bowman (freestyle), Bryce Bennett (alpine), Ryan Cochran-Siegle (alpine), Alex Ferreira (Nordic), Bryan Fletcher (Nordic), Taylor Fletcher (Nordic), Jared Goldberg (alpine), Faye Guilini (snowboarding), Devin Logan (freeskiing), Wiley Maple (alpine), Megan McJames (alpine), Madison Olson (freestyle), Abby Ringquist (ski jump), Morgan Schild (freestyle), Liz Stephen (cross-country), Brita Sigourney (freestyle), Darian Stevens (freestyle), and Jacqueline Wiles (alpine). 

“I was the kid who was in summer school a lot,” said Faye Guilini, a three-time Olympian, Grand Prix champ and a junior at Westminster who’s working on her accounting major. “It took me an extra year to graduate high school and I didn’t really see secondary education as an option.” 

Guilini said the Westminster professors were willing to work with her schedule with competing and practicing, and even worked with her when she was traveling. She said it’s very beneficial and because of the understanding and determination of the professors, she’s maintained a 3.9 GPA, something she thought she’d never be able to achieve.