2019 Athlete of the Year: Mac Forehand

It was a big year for Mac Forehand. Here’s just how big.

Mac Forehand, Winhall, Vt.

In 2019, Mac Forehand, then 17, got the invite that would make any teenager who’s into action sports, start fist-punching the air: for the first time the Stratton Mountain School freeskier was on the roster for the X Games in Aspen. However, in January he cracked his scapula, forcing him to sit out.

That didn’t stop Forehand from coming back with a vengeance. In March, at the Toyota U.S. Grand Prix at Mammoth Mountain, Calif., Forehand threw down a huge first run, scoring 90.95 to take the lead in slopestyle and earning his first World Cup gold medal. In November, 2018, he’d finished second at the World Cup in Stubai, Austria, then a fifth in the next World Cup in France.

By the time he reached the final World Cup in Silvaplan, Italy he’d amassed enough points that even with a 12th place finish there, he could win the overall crystal globe given to the season-long winners of the World Cup.

For a rookie U.S. Team member who had started the 2018-19 season by winning the Junior World Championships in big air in Cadrona, New Zealand, it was a whirlwind year.

“It feels crazy,” Forehand said at the press conference after the race. “I didn’t think I would have a chance to podium this year, nevermind take home the crystal globe at the end of the season. I want to thank all the guys back home at SMS (Stratton Mountain School) and U.S. Ski & Snowboard for supporting me all year long.”

Forehand is the only SMS student ever to win the overall World Cup while still at school.

Forehand, who grew up in Connecticut driving to his family’s ski house at Stratton every weekend, has been on coaches’ radars since he was a grom. He began competing in freestyle at age 12 and his family moved to Winhall, in part so he could train. “He’s just so smooth” says Jesse Mallis, the Stratton Mountain School coach who worked closely with Forehand, as he had with another World Cup globe winner, Devin Logan, on perfecting his big air jumps and slopestyle moves at Mount Snow’s Carinthia Parks.

Forehand kicked off his 2019/20 season with a 33rd in a big air World Cup in Italy, and then made it into the finals in Atlanta’s big air World Cup, held on a ramp covered with man-made snow at Sun Trust Park. However, he injured his knee and had to sit out the final run but still scored a 10th overall.

With big air skiing being introduced as a medal event at the Beijing Olympics in 2022, it’s a discipline Forehand is working on alongside his freestyle tricks. With sponsorship from Red Bull, Faction Skis and Carinthia Parks, this Stratton Mountain School student’s senior year looks bright. — L.G.

Then 17, Mac Forehand (center) scored his first ever World Cup win at the Toyota U.S. Grand Prix at Mammoth Mountain in March, 2019. Photo courtesy U.S. Ski and Snowboard
For more of our 2019 Vermont Sports Athletes of the Year, head here.

Featured Photo Caption: Mac Forehand finds big air close to home at Carinthia Parks. Mike Dawsey

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