WWU Student Joins Team USA for Winter Olympic Games

Breezy Johnson

Photo by Renee Glick, Courtesy of Darigold

Breezy Johnson was essentially raised on the slopes of the mountains. She first strapped on skis at age 3, and her dad coached her through her first competition when she was in kindergarten.

Now, Johnson is the youngest member on the United States Ski Team. She’s been competing with team Alpine A for the last three years and is also studying English as a sophomore at Western Washington University. We spoke with the 22-year-old in the days leading up to the Pyeongchang winter Olympics — which begins Feb. 9 — to hear her thoughts on the biggest competition in the game.

When did you find out you were officially going to the Olympics, and what did that feel like?

I found out I was going when my coach called me during a little break in Vienna, Austria. I was relaxing and watching the men compete slalom in Schladming (the Super Bowl of Slalom), and I got the call. He told me I was going, and I felt elated. I quickly told everyone in “my circle.” My parents were first, of course, and then some of my friends, and my amazing sponsors who have supported me along the journey. I was all alone in Vienna, but I felt surrounded by support from everyone in that moment.

How does it feel qualifying and competing in the Olympics for the first time?

I honestly don’t have a ton of expectations. … Honestly some of the craziness is looking back on high school when people were like, “You’re going to go to the Olympics,” and it seemed so far off. To be going 5 years later is pretty crazy to me. It’s so different now than it was then. It’s more real and also more-or-less awe-inspiring. I mean it’s just like every other competition I do every week, but it also makes me realize that my job is so cool, and the fact that I get to do this all the time is insane.

How do you prepare for the competition?

I prepare for the Olympics like all competitions. I try not to change anything for big events. I have been preparing through visualization since our test event. We came to Korea last year, and I have been going over the course in my mind ever since. Visualizing every turn and jump. Now I’m trying not to over-analyze it and just get ready to go.

What’s it been like balancing school and what I’m sure is a rigorous training schedule?

I just go to school for 10 weeks each year. It gives me time to focus on school and take a break from skiing, and then I can feel free to truly focus on skiing the rest of the year. It’s going to take me about 10 years to graduate, but hopefully my ski career will last that amount of time, too.

Why are you passionate about skiing? How do you feel when you’re out on the slopes?

I am passionate about skiing for many reasons. One main reason is I am drawn to the self-pride I feel in doing something difficult. I think ski racing is the hardest thing I have ever done, and that makes every success and victory feel amazing. It fills me with so much pride to dedicate myself to something so tough.

Any advice for others about following their dreams?

I would say don’t be afraid of your dreams. I have met many people too afraid to truly chase after sports because the likelihood of making it is so small. I think to truly commit to something so difficult is a victory in-and-of itself.

Washingtonians on the Team USA Olympic Roster

  • Sadie Bjornsen, Winthrop
  • Erik Bjornsen, Winthrop
  • J.R. Celski, Federal Way
  • Aaron Tran, Federal Way
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is an assistant editor at South Sound magazine. Email her.
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