Local: Hello As Told By

Breezy Johnson

Look for this local ski racer at the Beijing Olympics. 

// As told by breezy johnson
Photo by Jonathan Selkowitz

Last winter, Victor-based speed skier Breezy Johnson, who grew up ski racing with the Jackson Hole Ski & Snowboard Club (JHSSC), had what can only be called an epic World Cup season. She placed third in four consecutive World Cup downhill races—at Val d’Isère (two races), St. Anton, and Crans-Montana. Johnson was only the fourth American woman to do this (the other three are Lindsey Vonn, Julia Mancuso, and Picabo Street, who all happen to also be Olympic gold medalists). Johnson, who turns 26 this January, made her World Cup debut in 2015 and qualified for the 2017 World Championships, where she finished 15th in downhill and 28th in super-G, and was the youngest member of the U.S. team there. At the Sochi Olympics in 2018, Johnson was seventh in the downhill and 14th in the super-G. In 2016 and 2020, she was the U.S. National downhill champion.  

Last season I had really big goals, and it was a very good season. I definitely wanted to be in the top three in the [World Cup] downhill standings, and I ended up fourth, but I know these things are complicated, and I did crash in the last race [in Passo San Pellegrino, Italy]. But I’d say I reached my goals for last season, although, as an athlete, you do always want more, so when I started seeing the success I was having, I definitely started wanting the downhill title. I didn’t get it, but I did put it all on the line and skied my best at every race, and, although this is never a stated goal, it is always something I’m aiming for.

I’ve always wanted to be a ski racer. In kindergarten when kids got asked what they wanted to be when they grow up, my answer was “professional skier.” Now that I’m there, the reality is very different from what I imagined. I didn’t think of the in-between pieces that you need for ski racing, like strength training, or speed training. And it’s these in-between pieces that, for me, are the most incredible part. This summer, I was in Saas Fee training speed with Sofia [Goggia, winner of the World Cup overall downhill title three years running] and Mikaela [Shiffrin, two-time Olympic gold medalist and three-time World Cup overall champion] and was like, “this is kind of crazy.” 

I am excited about the Beijing Olympics and would love to win there. I went into the 2018 Olympics knowing I had a medal shot—but I’d have to ski my best and some other people would have to screw up for that to happen. I feel like I’ll be coming into Beijing where people are hoping I’ll screw up. I’m definitely a different skier now. The injuries I had [serious leg injuries in 2018 and 2019] taught me that tomorrow isn’t guaranteed, much less next week or next year. You never know. I’m like “carpe diem, carpe Olympiad.” You just go out there and ski your best today, and that is what you have. That’s what I did last season and what I want to do in Beijing. 

JOHNSON ON A WORLD CUP RACE HAPPENING IN JACKSON HOLE

My dream is that Salt Lake gets the 2030 Olympics and Jackson hosts the last women’s speed race before those Olympics. I think that is the most likely way for a World Cup to happen here. If Salt Lake doesn’t get those Olympics, then it’s less likely to happen, although I think the commitment [from JHMR] is really good, so I’m hopeful that, regardless of where the 2030 Olympics are, we can have a World Cup race here. 

In Europe, the big ski resorts—St. Anton, St. Moritz, Méribel, Val d’Isère—all host World Cup races. Europeans know about Aspen and Vail because those resorts do have World Cup races. I tell people Jackson is way better than those places—to me, Jackson Hole is the ski mecca—but they don’t believe me, because they’ve never heard of it. I want a World Cup race here to show the world how amazing Jackson is, and I want to show Jackson this crazy sport of speed racing. 

Breezy’s favorite runs at JHMR

The Mushroom Chutes are overlooked. Everyone skis Tower 3. The Mushroom Chutes hold powder all day, and I like tree skiing—having obstacles to avoid. There are also cliff bands in there that we used to jump as kids; they were the perfect size for a 10-year-old.

Radioactive Woods is a less-thought-of powder place that is also very treed. I definitely hit some trees in there as a kid and once lost a ski and had to be taken down by ski patrol. When there’s powder, there are a couple of spots that have fun pillows where you’re jumping from rock to rock. 

Laramie Bowl is just so fun. When they groom the skier’s left side, you can just rip. The right side is usually moguls. I like the feeling of being in this big bowl too, you kind of feel small. JH

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