WHITEFISH — Maggie Voisin has gotten accustomed to representing her country and home state of Montana on the world stage. And that trend will continue at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.
"This will be my third one, it's so surreal. It's a process and it's a stressful process. And there's just so much relief, knowing that you've made the team and, just representing your country to on a world stage," said Voisin, a Whitefish native who just qualified for her third Olympics on the U.S. freestyle ski team last Sunday.
That stage has brought Maggie the highest of highs and lowest of lows. In the 2014 Sochi games, Voisin injured her ankle during practice and wasn’t able to compete, while in 2018 in PyeongChang, she narrowly missed the podium.
But none of that could prepare her for January of last year when she experienced a new layer of heartbreak she didn’t know existed.
"Almost a year ago on Jan. 23 last year, my brother (Michael) took his own life unexpectedly, which obviously was just the most devastating thing that's ever happened to my family," Voisin told MTN Sports. "Never in my life obviously have I experienced anything like that or death that close to me, especially in that way and it rocked my world more than I think I ever let people know.
"I just I felt it in my performance, and I ended up only competing once last year, just because, I'll be honest, I tried to go to multiple events and just had a breakdown."
But then, almost a year later, she began her breakthrough.
Once Voisin found out she qualified for the 2022 Olympics in Beijing, her head and her heart immediately went to Michael.
"Immediately, I think about him every day and when I ski, I wear his dog tag, he was in the army," Voisin said. "I don't really wear it anytime unless I am competing."
When asked by MTN how this has changed her as a person and an athlete Voisin responded, "It's tough. I just feel like I look at life in a totally different lens. I wake up and I feel like I'm more present. I want to be a better human.
"And it's true, life is so short, and I feel like I have this one shot to just be me and be the best and achieve my goals and be the best team that I possibly can. This really made this Olympic process I feel like so much more special."
According to the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention, suicide rates are at an all-time high and are the 10th leading cause of death in the United States.
When Voisin was asked what she wants people to know from Michael's story, she said she wants to bring awareness to suicide prevention and mental health, and hopes to even start a cause of her own one day.
"I just want to raise awareness and let people know that you know, it's not weak. It is not weak to speak up and ask for help," said Voisin. "And that you are enough and that if you're struggling, you can get through this. You know, it doesn't have to be like this forever. And I think if I can help raise awareness and just by sharing this story to let you know you're not weak, you're not weak. Asking for help takes a lot of strength."
Michael has continued to be Voisin's inspiration on and off the slopes, and she says everyday she strives to be a good human just like her brother was.
"It was really the human he was and the heart that he had. There was no one like my brother Michael and I strive every day to be half the human he was," said Voisin.
If you or anyone you know is hurting, help is available from the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 800-273-8255.