For someone who loves to fly, Maddie Bowman's feet are planted pretty firmly on the ground once the skis come off.
"I'm just a kid who happened to find skiing, and whose parents happened to help her out with it financially," Bowman said. "I'm mostly just lucky to be where I am."
Clearly the X Games, Dew Tour and freesking championship hardware that Bowman picked up last year hasn't changed her humble roots. But the titles do suggest it's more than luck that recently landed Bowman her third X Games invite and spot on the Dew Tour.
Bowman has some serious freeskiing skills, and the reality is that the 18-year-old has hardly scratched the surface of her promising career.
Last season, Bowman exploded onto the freeskiing scene. She captured a silver medal at the X Games despite starting out as an alternate. She also claimed fourth at the Visa U.S. Grand Prix, first on a Vermont Dew Tour stop, third in Snowbasin, UT, and closed the season by winning the Association of Freeskiing Professionals World Championship halfpipe.
Did we miss anything?
Oh yeah, by the time South Tahoe High School graduation rolled around, the senior was ranked third in the women's AFP halfpipe standings.
Impressive stats, especially considering Bowman didn't set foot in a park until she was 13. In five short years, she went from tentative jumping and watching the X Games at home to a Sierra-at-Tahoe Ski Resort pro who dominates the X Games.
"I didn't see it coming at all. I didn't even think about going to X Games," Bowman said. "I used to watch the Anderson sisters. My friend Kim and I would watch and go 'that's so cool,' and now I'm there, and Jamie is there at the same time."
Bowman's come a long way in that short time, but she's still the same kid who excitedly describes a friend landing a cool new trick. The same kid looking for the perfect powder day, which she won't hesitate to skip pipe practice for. The same kid who has a lucky pair of underwear, and says "OK, well here I go," as she drops into the X Games halfpipe.
"I try not to let myself feel like a big deal because really, sometimes you're just not," Bowman said. "We're all just a bunch of people who don't want to grow up."
The kid is steadily climbing the ranks in the adult freeskiing world, and this season, promises to be her biggest year yet.
Bowman will not only compete in the X Games and Dew Tour, but she will take two European tours with the U.S. Freeskiing team. One of those trips will feature an Olympic test run in Sochi, Russia as Bowman helps her country qualify for spots. It's a scene Bowman will, in all likelihood, return to for the 2014 Olympics.
Norway, Spain and France, Bowman will ski and explore them all this year as she continues to make a name for herself in the freeskiing world.
The Dew Tour Mountain Championships are up first for her at Breckenridge Ski Resort, Colo., Dec. 13-16, and the reigning champion is excited to throw down some new tricks.
"I learned right nine's over the summer. They're unnatural, and I'm really excited to do that in my run because I've never done it before," Bowman said. "It's probably what I'm most nervous about, but it's just such a fun trick to do so I'm not really worried."
Fun, is afterall what encouraged Bowman to try her first trick five years ago. Fun, is also what makes the X Games her favorite stop in the upcoming competition lineup.
"It's just a fun event. No one is as worried about winning, and we get to ski the best pipe in the world," Bowman said, "and they gave us free food so we were pretty stoked the whole time."