Sports

Her wreck last year went viral, but she just earned a shot to make different headlines

Breezy Johnson, of the United States, skis down the course during women's World Cup Super G in Lake Louise, Canada. Johnson was selected to the U.S. Ski Team’s Olympic squad on Wednesday.
Breezy Johnson, of the United States, skis down the course during women's World Cup Super G in Lake Louise, Canada. Johnson was selected to the U.S. Ski Team’s Olympic squad on Wednesday. Associated Press

Western Washington University sophomore Breezy Johnson has been selected to the U.S. Ski Team’s Olympic squad that will compete in the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in South Korea next month.

Johnson, who grew up in Victor, Idaho, and learned to ski at nearby Jackson Hole, Wyoming, was one of 22 athletes picked to represent the United States in PyeongChang on Wednesday, according to a release. She will join a team that includes Olympic gold medalists Lindsey Vonn, Mikaela Shiffrin and Ted Ligety, along with two-time medalist Andrew Weibrecht.

“A big group of people have worked very hard to enable us to put together such a strong alpine race team for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games,” U.S. alpine director Patrick Rimi said in the release. “We have a good mix of veterans, Olympic champions who know what it takes to win at the highest level, and new, younger talent who have consistently shown throughout the qualifying process that they are ready now to fly the flag for the USA at the greatest competition of all.”

Johnson, who turned 22 last week, specializes in the fastest and most dangerous alpine events – the Downhill and Super G. This will be her first time competing in the Olympics.

Before earning a chance to represent her country, Johnson may have been best known for a wreck last March during a World Cup Final race in Aspen, Colorado.

“You can look it up on YouTube – Google ‘Breezy Johnson crash,’” Johnson said last fall. “I lost control going around a gate and did the splits, then a cart wheel, and I ended up fracturing my tibia. My tibia and femur got in a fight, and my femur won.”

Johnson was diagnosed with a tibial plateau fracture, forcing her to focus on rehab during the offseason before returning to the slopes last fall as a member of the U.S. Ski Team Alpine A squad.

After her return, she was able to compile enough points in World Cup events to earn a selection to the Olympic team. Most recently, she finished 11th in the Downhill at Cortina d’Ampezzo on Saturday – her best finish of the season to this point. She currently ranks 25th internationally in the downhill and 110th in the Super G, according to International Ski Federation standings.

Johnson attends Western only during the spring quarter, allowing her time to train and compete with the ski team during the fall and winter. Because of that, she said she hasn’t skied Mt. Baker Ski Area, though she enjoys many of the other opportunities Whatcom County has to offer.

“When it comes to school, I’m there for school,” Johnson said of her time at Western. “I’m not there for skiing. It’s my ‘me’ time.”

Johnson’s selection to the Olympic team marks the third straight Winter Olympics an athlete with Whatcom County ties has represented the United States. During the 2010 Vancouver Games, Blaine resident Karen Thatcher helped the Americans win a silver medal in women’s hockey, while Bellingham High graduate Angeli VanLaanen finished 11th in the freeskiing halfpipe at the 2014 Games in Sochi, Russia.

“This is something I’ve been dreaming of since I was a little kid,” Johnson said. “Getting to the Olympics would be crazy, but anything can happen. ... I’m just trying to push myself to greater heights and podiums.”

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