Mac Bohonnon, an 18-year-old who was selected for the U.S. Ski Team’s development program five years ago as an eighth-grader, is the only American entrant in the Olympic men’s aerials event Monday, Feb. 17, at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park.
Get used to the name. He is a rising up-and-comer in the aerials world.
Bohonnon, 18, punched his ticket for the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games because of a last-minute trip to a world cup competition in January in Canada. In just his eighth world cup event, Bohonnon earned a silver medal in Val Saint-Come, Quebec. It not only was his first career world cup medal but also qualified him for the Winter Games because he was the only U.S. man to medal in the 2013-14 world cup season.
“I booked my flight [to Quebec] about eight hours before the event started and didn’t really have any expectations going into it,” he said. “I was just psyched to be there.”
The same may be said about Bohonnon’s first Olympic experience. A USSA TEAM Academy resident athlete, he was sitting in his AP honors English class in Park City, Utah, when he received a telephone call notifying him that he had been nominated to the U.S. Olympic Team.
“I couldn’t retain any focus after I hung up,” he told the Hartford Courant.
Bohonnon, who was on skis before he was 2 years old, had moved to the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid, N.Y., from his home in Madison, Conn., at the age of 14. Two years after that he went to Utah. He created a website and also went on an online funding website in an attempt to help with finances.
Monday, he will compete against the world’s best for an Olympic medal. Each athlete will get two runs in the qualifying round, with the top-scoring skiers advancing to the finals. Skiers are judged on jump takeoff, form and landing. U.S. aerialists have medaled in three of the last four Olympic Winter Games.
While Bohonnon has medaled just once in world cup competition, he won’t enter the Olympic aerials event as an unknown. He was named the 2013-14 FIS World Cup Rookie of the Year and his path toward Sochi included a pair of first-place finishes in NorAm Cup competitions in December.
“At the beginning of the season I didn’t even know if I would have world cup starts,” he said. “I didn’t have any huge expectations going into this season other than to have a good time and not think about it too much. Getting this award was a really great way to cap off the world cup season.”
Bohonnon’s acrobatic skiing even caught the eye of two-time Olympic bobsledder Steve Langton, who was often training in Lake Placid at the same time as Bohonnon.
“Ever since I’ve known him, I’ve seen him grow in his sport and as a human being,” Langton said.