Several weeks ago, Carly Margulies came to Mammoth, to help with our annual fundraiser, The Invitational, by being one of our team coaches. Carly is an inspiration to many and a great example of what can be! Growing up in Mammoth, Carly has a lot of insight on life in our FLEX program, competing on MMSST and how to keep it all together. She is generous with her time and spent an hour at the Middle School, showing the students a slide show and answering many questions from excited budding athletes. Carly also carved out some time to chat about her Olympic experience. Here’s what she had to say. . .
Competing in the 2022 Beijing Olympics was an unexpected event for you as you hadn’t competed in over 2 ½ years due to injury. Tell me about that.
Those were my dreams since I was 11 years old. So I went home, I was crying all day, and then I ended up talking to my team PT, and she said “Actually, there’s a chance that this meniscus isn’t repairable and you might be able to just snip it and you could be looking at a 4-6 week recovery.”
So I looked at the calendar and 6 weeks from that date, was the Olympics. And so the only way I’d be able to go to the Olympics without competing is through a coaches discretionary spot. So the fourth spot they save potential for a pick from the coaches.
I was holding onto hope and my PT was like, don’t get your hopes up. If they go into surgery and they can repair it, that’s probably the best way to go and that is a 6-9 month recovery. So they wouldn’t know until they went in. So 5 days later, we went in for surgery and my doctor was like, “Ok, Carly, if you wake up and there’s a knee brace on you, that means you are looking at a 6-9 month recovery. If it’s sitting to the side, it’s a 4-6 week recovery. So I woke up from my surgery all drugged up, and the knee brace was to the side of me. And I started crying and I immediately called my mom and she was like “Yeah, I already know the news. He called me and you’re going, hopefully!! You’re going to be back on skis in 4-6 weeks.” And so, from then on, that’s when my PT started and I gotta sit back on the sidelines, and watch my teammates compete and just hoped that. . .
Let me go back a bit, I was actually in that 4th place spot to begin with through points for past seasons’ events and through an injury clause, they’re able to freeze your points so that they stay in that spot. So my points were frozen and the only way I could get bumped out is if my teammates were better so I watched all season long as my teammates competed and luckily no one bumped me out the whole entire season so I stayed in that fourth spot and in the end the coaches decided there’s no reason to pick you for the fourth spot, you earned the spot, with points from 2 seasons ago. Wild! It’s crazy! Who would have thought?!
Photo - taken at the Finals. Her first 2 runs weren't the best so on her last run, run 3, she went all out with a full send. She was able to land her r9 in competition and on the big stage!
How many injuries have you had?
What does a normal day look like training for the Olympics?
We go to the halfpipe for 4 hours of training, giving it your all but trying not to get hurt. Then, it is straight to the gym for a 1 hour workout to cool down or do a strength workout. Go home, eat, sleep, repeat.
Was competing in the Olympics like a regular competition mentally? Were there things you didn’t expect?
I hadn’t competed in 2 ½ years, so I kind of almost forgot the feeling of competing. There is definitely more pressure because of the Olympics and millions of peoples eyes on you. But the main difference was they didn’t have an audience, no fans. That felt weird. In a sense it almost felt like a practice day, skiing with your friends and coaches but at the same time there is an added pressure to it, which is weird.
I would have liked an audience. I like the energy a crowd can bring, it makes you feel you have more to show and give and you can hear them (the audience) at the bottom cheering you on.
What was it like going over there without your parents?
It was tough because they usually come to almost all of my events, but it was nice to facetime them everyday, and see them on TV. That was cool.
Is there anything that you have learned from China that will change the way you train in the future?
I don’t think necessarily. I’ve always been big on having fun, always, and not trying to make it too strenuous of a thing. I think if I can keep that ball rolling into the next few seasons of training, it is just to have light hearted time, be with your friends, have fun!
Can you speak to how growing up here in Mammoth prepared you for this path of being on the Olympic Team?
Was the wind as significant as was being reported on T.V.?
Yes, It was like negative degrees everyday but I was able to layer up where I wasn’t cold ever. The wind did affect our finals day cause it slowed us down a little bit but I think for me mentally if didn’t mess me up whereas for my other competitors it was getting in their head like “Oh, the wind could push me out of the pipe. . .it could do this, it could do that “ so I think for me growing up in Mammoth it helped prepare me in a way
What was the snow like? You said it was sugary, it was man-made snow. How did that affect you and your competition?
Not much, I’m kind of used to all different kinds of snows and our wax tech that was with us was able to wax our skis no matter what the snow condition was so it didn’t affect me. And the pipe was really good.
What makes a good pipe?
The shape of it and the height of it and also how steep or flat it is. We prefer a steeper pipe so that you have more speed. If it’s flat and you're trying to go up, you lose speed. And then the shape of it has to be perfect because if it’s too this way (motioning an angle, then you’re going to land on top of the pipe, if it’s this way (motioning a downward angle), you’re going to land at the bottom of the pipe so it has to be perfectly straight so that you can go up and down.
Are most of the places you compete, a standardized pipe? Do you notice a difference at all in various pipes?
Yeah, it’s very easy to notice a little change in the pipe but they’re usually similar, all 22 feet high and the same amount of length.
MMCF sponsors the FLEX Program. How did the FLEX PROGRAM and the Mammoth High School program make it possible to focus on your training but keep your academics balanced in the process?
Yeah, we were able to ski all day and then after skiing we could come to the school if we wanted to or they allowed us to go home to do our school work.
How do you balance your Olympic level athleticism with your academics and personal life?
Um, I don’t know if I have a great answer because I’ve been able to balance it well since I’ve been hurt year after year so when I was at school and hurt for a year, I was gaining friends and gaining relationships but when it came time for me to be back on snow and competing and traveling all of the time, it was very impossible to have a relationship. I do have a set of good friends that stick with me throughout all of my traveling and what not and we’re able to facetime all of the time.
Are these friends from your childhood?
What is next?
For skiing, I’ll be taking a year at a time. And when it comes to academics, I’d like to go to a graduate school that offers psychology. If I want to do anything with that degree, I have to go to school for like 8 more years, so I’ll be chipping away at that (laugh) , hopefully, soon.
Will you be applying to places that have snow/skiing?
Yeah, definitely yeah. I probably will stay in Utah. They have a really good psychology program and then the team can help with some of the funds.
Tell me about the food at the Olympics. . .did you have any awesome food?
So we had a cafeteria that would serve the same food, every single day cafeteria buffet style. But it was really bad. It tasted like plastic chicken and so that food was pretty gross. But they did have a KFC, which I’ve never had KFC before, but I ate so much KFC there because that was the only edible food, unfortunately. So the food in our venue was pretty terrible. There were a few hotels that were a bus ride away that we were allowed to go to that had really good authentic Chinese food and it was cheap, too. So we went there a lot and ate and the food was amazing.
When you landed in China, you were probably taken directly to your accommodations. What were your accommodations like?
We were in little apartment style condos, me and my teammate. It was a 2 bedroom, 2 bath with like a pretty big living room. It was actually really nice.
You were able to post a few things on Instagram. Were there any restrictions with social media? Were they guarding your phones?
What is a significant, funny memory from your time at the Olympics?
Did you get to socialize or kind of keep to yourself?
We typically weren’t allowed to because of COVID, because if you got COVID, you would have to quarantine and you weren’t allowed to compete. So we honestly stuck to our team for the most part. In the cafeteria room, each seat had plastic corridors for sitting so you could see people but you couldn’t really hang out. You would have to lean around the corridor to talk to the person next to you so. . .it was weird.
Tell me about the Olympic Village?
You had the cafeteria, the game room, your room and then there’s probably 10 different apartment complexes for the other countries, each having their own. And then they had like little shops that you could go to. You could go to a convenience store, the gaming, they had a laundry room and our team was actually the only team that was awarded bikes. Our Olympic Committee gave us bikes to bike around the village and they gave us locks. But a lot of the time athletes wouldn’t lock them and there was always a scandal of like another team, on our bikes. And we would be like “Hey! That’s not your bike, give it back!” They were jealous! Ha ha!
Do you have any words to share with MMCF and our donors in regards to the support you received?