At the age of 14, Vail’s Tess Johnson became the youngest person to ever be named to the U.S. moguls ski team. As a sophomore in high school, she had to overcome an overwhelming amount of doubt about competing with the worlds best at such a young age. And overcome it she did. That season Johnson won the North American Grand Prix.
Now 17, Johnson is just days away from her first ever Olympic competition and is still proving those doubts wrong each time she hits the slopes. In three years she has top finishes in every event she’s competed in, most notably a third-place finish in the U.S. Championships and fourth in the World Cup. Don’t look for the success to stop there, as Johnson said in an interview with NBC on Nov. 7, “I would aim to make the super finals (top 6 in moguls). That would be extremely successful for me.”
So how does a 5-foot-4, 117-pound teenager stare down some of the best competition in the world?
“In the gate I secure my gear (goggles, helmet, poles, gloves), stomp my feet, growl a little bit for ferocity and push out!” Johnson told NBC.
Currently a senior at the Vail Ski and Snowboard Academy, Tess has faced high stakes pressure off the slopes as well. Johnson is the captain of her high school soccer club and has played a major role in helping them win two state championships. A state championship may not quite compare to the pressure of the Olympics and representing one’s country, but Johnson has proven she is a fierce competitor and will not back down from any challenge.
Johnson shines in the classroom as well with a 4.0 GPA. In a Jan. 22 interview with the Vail Daily, Johnson was asked about school and how she will handle it during the Olympics, ”It’s possible that I won’t be coming home until after March, after U.S. Nationals, so until then I’m going to try to do as much school as I can, on the road, which I know won’t be easy, as it never has been,” Johnson said. “But I’m kind of just trying to focus on the present as much as I can.”
With an busy month ahead, Johnson will have many challenges thrown her way. But, like she has so many times so far in her young career, she seems well-equipped to overcome them.
There is a lot to appreciate about Tess Johnson — from her hard work in school, to her competitive nature, to the fact that she is still a free-spirited kid representing her country. Regardless of the reason, she will be a fun one to watch in the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Back home in Colorado, fans can’t wait to see Johnson stomp her feet and give us a growl before she pushes out on her first ever Olympic competition.
Women’s moguls qualifying begins Feb. 8. The finals are on Feb. 11.
Feature Image Provided by U.S. Ski and Snowboard