Kiley McKinnon’s journey in aerials skiing seems almost destined, from her recruitment into the sport by 2014 Olympian Mac Bohonnon, a friend from elementary school, to her background in competitive gymnastics setting the foundation for all the mid-air acrobatics required by her sport.
That journey hit a bump four years ago when a shoulder injury kept her from qualifying for the Sochi Games in 2014, but on Friday night the 22-year-old from New Haven, Connecticut, finally won the opportunity about which she’s been dreaming for years.
McKinnon was second at the first Olympic selection event last February at Deer Valley Resort in Park City, Utah. She struggled to find the podium at the five world cup events that followed at the end of the 2016-17 season and beginning of the 2017-18 season -- until earlier this month.
She scored her first career world cup win Jan. 6 in Moscow.
Those podium finishes earned her spot on the U.S. team that will head to the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 in just a few short weeks. McKinnon finished eighth at Deer Valley Friday night, but with the performances of her teammates and the number of selection events remaining, McKinnon was able to clinch her Olympic debut.
That McKinnon waited so long for her first world cup victory is somewhat amazing, given that she won the 2014-15 world cup overall title. In the past several years she has won a silver medal at the 2015 world championships and finished fourth at the event in 2017. She has eight world cup podiums and finished ninth in the world cup standings last season and sixth in 2015-16.