The 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South
Korea are under away. That means by now all of our
readers (most/some) are glued to their televisions;
decking themselves out in red, white, and blue (or
whatever the colors of their chosen team); and asking
“did you see that snowboard cross/luge/figure skating
final?”. MN recently caught caught up with Team
USA freestyle skiing aerialist Kiley McKinnon.
Do you have a hidden talent and if so what is it?
Kiley McKinnon: I just got asked this and someone
brought up speaking gibberish and I actually realized
that I do know how to speak that but I would have never
said that as a secret talent or hidden talent. I really
don’t think I have anything very secret about me, but
yeah, I guess that I can speak gibberish, which is super
What’s your favorite junk food?
KM: My favorite junk food would probably have to be
What’s your favorite food in general?
KM: My favorite food, I’ve decided … I told myself the
other day that my favorite food is egg sandwiches because
I eat them all the time and I never get tired of
them and I went through this week where I ate on every
single day and that’s all I craved, so I guess I’d have to
say like bacon egg and cheeses or egg sandwich, yeah.
What are you majoring in, in college?
KM: I am currently in college and I’m trying to decide
what degree I would like to major in, I keep going back
and forth with business and communications, I’m leaning
more towards communications but haven’t quite
What’s your best subject in school?
KM: My best subject was science.
How do you wake up in the morning, like do you
press snooze a bunch of times or do you get right
out of bed?
KM: Yeah, I set my alarm way earlier than I need to
wake up just so I can tell myself that I have more time
to sleep and then I’ll snooze it like 10 times before I
actually wake up.
Who do you look up to?
KM: I guess I look up to all my teammates, I’d say
there’s always times during training or competition seasons
where I strive to do how well they’re doing and I
don’t know, I guess I just look up to my teammates and
What’s something everyone gets wrong about your
KM: Something everyone gets wrong, is [people think]
we don’t know how to ski and that’s always so sad because
I don’t like the fact that people think we don’t
know how to ski, people also just get our sport wrong
in general all the time. They always think that it’s going
off like slope style jumps so I always have to explain exactly
what it is or else people usually don’t understand,
which is understandable.
What do you bring with you whenever you travel?
KM: Whenever I travel I always bring the same thing,
pretty much the same things anyone else would bring
but I always make sure that I have nice over-the-ear
headphones for the flight so I can stay quiet and not
have to listen to all the noises.
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten?
KM: Weirdest thing I’ve ever eaten… that’s a tough one.
I’ve eaten a flower before. I remember back when I was
younger, those little yellow flowers that you could like
put under your chin. I’m pretty sure when I was little
my brothers, my older brothers told me that you’re supposed
to eat them and I think I did but I spit it out right
What’s the last thing you posted to Instagram?
KM: The last thing I posted was a video of me in the
photo shoot tent and I was holding the confetti machine
in the team USA onesie and I was spraying it everywhere
and they filmed it on video.
What are you most excited about with the Olympics?
KM: I’m most excited about the experiences that I’ll gain
from the Olympics, that’s something that I’m looking forward
How young were you when you started skiing?
KM: I started skiing when I was about 2 – 3 years old
and I started doing aerials when I was 15.
What drew you to aerials?
KM: I think the biggest thing that drew me to aerials was
the amount of perfectionism that comes with the sport,
I’m a huge perfectionist with everything
I do with my life and it
really drew me to the sport because
I wanted to do perfect
If you weren’t an aerialist what
would you be doing instead?
KM: If I wasn’t an aerialist I
probably would have graduated
college last year with all of
my other classmates who just
graduated and it’s tough to say,
I mean I was in a time in my
life where I had no idea what I
wanted to do, so now that I’m
doing aerials it’s hard to say
what I would be doing now if I
wasn’t doing aerials.
If you had to pick a summer
Olympics sport what would it
KM: Beach volleyball, I want
to play beach volleyball, I keep telling everybody that
when I’m done with aerials that I’m going to start my
beach volleyball career.
What’s your dream career other than what you’re doing
KM: My dream career if I had never started doing aerials
and I had a lot more time on my plate I would have
loved to become a veterinarian… I have a golden retriever,
she’s everything to me, she’s my life.
What’s the hardest part about being an athlete?
KM: Probably the hardest part about being an athlete I
would say is dealing with ups and downs that you face,
especially with aerials being so much about being perfect,
I think there are so many days where you’re struggling
with your jumping and have to deal with maybe a
bad result in a competition and making sure that you
put that past you and focusing on the good things, definitely
have learned a lot from those experiences.
What’s the best thing about being an athlete?
KM: The best thing about being an athlete is traveling
the world and loving what you do.
Where is your favorite place that you have traveled?
KM: My favorite place is probably Spain. Yeah, we went
to Spain last year for world championships and it was
What’s your favorite work out fuel?
KM: My favorite work out fuel would probably… I don’t
know, it’s tough, I don’t have one specific thing that I
eat, it just depends on the day, what I have in my fridge
to eat that day, there’s nothing specific. I usually try not
to eat too much before I work out and save it for afterwords.
What’s something about your gear, what you wear
when you compete that people might not realize?
KM: A lot of people don’t realize what we wear just in
general for aerial skiing, a lot of the times people either
think that we wear like a skin tight racing suit or they
just don’t know what it is and for us we wear regular ski
pants with the more thin jacket but doesn’t have a hood
and we actually zip our coats into our pants so that they
stay tucked in when we’re in
the air and landing … so a lot of
people I don’t think realize that.
What TV show are you obsessed
with right now?
KM: Pretty Little Liars.
What’s your biggest phobia?
KM: Spiders or hair, I hate… wet
hair. I can’t go in the shower if
there’s wet hair in it, but I guess
probably spiders are the biggest
What’s the last thing you
KM: I shop a lot, I like shopping
so much. The last thing I
shopped for was actually a pair
What’s one thing you always
have to have when you’re
KM: One thing I always have
to have besides like the basic things that I obviously
need when I’m competing, I don’t know … nothing specific
other than what I need in order to do aerials really,
maybe music to listen to or you know, just having my
teammates there with me.
Do you have favorite pump-up music?
KM: Usually … Ashley Caldwell, she’s my teammate, she
usually decides to become obsessed with a song every
season … She finds some song and most of the time
it’s not even a pump-up song, one season it was “Unsteady”
from the X Ambassadors, which is like the least
pump-up song ever but it became like our song for that
season and she played it 24/7. Whenever we played
music that was the song she played and it got stuck in
our head always and now it’s just whenever we hear it,
it reminds us of each other and of that season and it’s
kind of happened every season since, so it’s funny.
To learn more, visit teamusa.org.
The Winter Olympics start live on Feb. 8
BY CHAUNCE HAYDEN