Not quite a year ago Maggie Voisin was shredding hills and feeling great, fully recovered from reconstructive knee surgery four years before.
Or so she thought.
A tight hamstring had her thinking, “You know, I haven’t had PT for a while,” and the Whitefish freeskier went in for a massage.
“I skied great that day,” Voisin said Wednesday from Aspen, Colorado. “But the therapist said when people come in with a sore hamstring – that’d be a muscle that would be working extremely hard to keep the knee in place.”
An MRI the next day revealed she’d re-torn her left ACL.
“I had no idea,” Voisin said. “My knee was super strong and it didn’t bother me.”
For a month she thought about finishing out the season – and continued skiing. But in April she went back to the OR.
The goal: Get right in time to compete in the XGames Aspen 2020, which begin Thursday.
“I big part of this for me is I knew when I got surgery that I wanted to be back for this,” she said. “I’m not putting as much expectation on myself as I would have if I hadn’t had surgery. But I’m happy to be back at the XGames, and feeling good.”
A year ago Voisin was coming off a bronze medal in Aspen, in the last Winter XGames. It’s been a dizzying ride to the top, and back down: A Slopestyle silver XGames medal as a 15-year-old in 2014; getting selected to the 2014 Winter Olympics only to miss them with a leg fracture; the first knee surgery that followed; a Slopestyle gold medal at Aspen in 2018; and finally a fourth-place finish in the same event at the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea.
“That was pretty unbelievable,” Voisin said. “I feel like the emotions of the last four years really hit me on that day – more after I was done competing, when it was all over.
“I was more sad for being so close, but also so thankful for having the experience. There I was, at the bottom (of the podium) – not medaling but as close as you can get. It was pretty awesome.”
Fast forward to last November, when she got back on the slopes for the first time in seven months.
“You can ski groomers and nothing else for a month,” Voisin said. “At least that’s what I did. By December I was able to ski park, but minimal. I didn’t try any slope run or park skiing until the new year. I’ve only been really getting after it for the last month or so.”
In terms of world-class competition, Aspen is where it all began. For Voisin – the only American to medal in Big Air, when she did so at the XGames Norway 2017 – this weekend was the obvious return target date.
“It’s the pinnacle of action sports, and it’s always been an honor to be here,” she said. “The level of riding gets harder and harder, and I’m excited to be a part of that progression and hopefully get back on the podium.”
On Friday she’s competing in the Big Air finals at 6:30 p.m. Her return continues Sunday at noon when she competes in the Slopestyle finals.
“I think having a goal in mind helped,” Voisin said. “It kind of kept me going in a sense. I wanted to get back for this, and I wanted to be back stronger than ever.
“I’m just happy and so grateful to be back – I have a new fire to ski better and better. I’m just looking forward to the comeback.”
Download the Daily Inter Lake app for breaking news, features and more: