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Troy Murphy: What Makes a Champion

By Caitlin Furin
October, 15 2015

From local ski hills to the PyeongChang Olympics, the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) encompasses all athletes that share a passion for skiing and snowboarding. We explore what makes each skier and rider a champion with stories from the U.S. Ski Team, U.S. Snowboarding and U.S. Freeskiing, next to kids winning a NASTAR medal, landing their first cork 7 or joining a club team. Alongside USSA’s mascot Champ, take a look at how all of these athletes strive to be Best in the World. #WhatMakesAChamp

If you’re standing at the bottom of a moguls course, and Troy Murphy is in the starting gate, you’re in for a real treat. Watching an athlete barrel through massive mounds of snow at top speed is intense, but it’s Murphy’s airs that really catch the attention of the spectators. In every run, he throws down a double full on top and a cork 10 on bottom, two of the most difficult tricks being performed on the World Cup circuit.

Growing up in the tight nit community of Bethel, ME, Murphy was raised with a love for everything outdoors. With friends down for anything and adventurous parents, he spent most of his time riding motocross, camping and, of course, skiing. “These days I hate sitting still, and I’m very grateful for that” stated Murphy. “Being outdoors and active is the only way I know how to live, and I think this lifestyle lends itself perfectly if you want to be a professional skier.”

Between traveling for competitions, Murphy is able to return to his home state of Maine a few times a year. He hosts an annual golf tournament to raise money for his skiing career and guest coaches at the Gould Academy Competition Program, his home club at Sunday River Ski Resort. 

Murphy was a bit of a late bloomer in mogul skiing. Since making the commitment to compete at the highest level, he’s had to work hard and fast to make up ground. That type of career may be challenging for some, but Murphy is better for it. “I’m really proud of how far I’ve come,” he says. “In a way, I’m glad things panned out this way because I never had a chance to plateau or let things get stale. There’s always been something that I need to learn, and I’ve never had a ton of time to learn it, so my career has been very fast paced and rewarding.”

In addition to claiming the national title, Murphy took home three top-10 finishes on the world cup circuit in 2015, including a career-best fourth place in Val St. Come, Canada.

As far as top career moments go, winning the moguls competition at the 2015 U.S. Championships is a highlight for Murphy. Outside of competition, he takes pride in the opportunity to be a role model for younger athletes. “I was exposed to many different actions sports growing up, and I remember wishing I could one day be like those high level athletes. To think that now I might be inspiring a kid who’s in a similar place is a cool feeling.”

The past few springs, Murphy has ventured up north to shred some awesome lines in the mountains of Alaska.

If he wasn’t mogul skiing, Murphy says he would still definitely be a skier. He’s recently discovered a new passion for big mountain skiing which has drawn him to the infamous peaks of Alaska for three backcountry ski trips. With friends in the park and big mountain scene, Murphy is able to step away from his competitive enveavours from time to time for some fun. “Constantly training and competing can get a little heavy on the mind,” says Murphy. “When I go ski a big line or learn a new trick with friends it really brings me back to ground zero of why I fell in love with skiing in the first place.” His love of skiing is what has and will drive Murphy to do great things in the mogul course and beyond.

We sat down with Murphy to explore what makes him a champion. Here’s what he had to say:                               

Q: In your words, what makes a champion?
TM: I think champions are made when a person is willing to push further and harder than their competition.

Q: Do you remember the first time you felt like a champion? Tell us about that moment. 
TM: When I won Junior National Championships in duals was the first time I felt like a champ. I’d been having a bit of a rough year, but I can remember wanting to perform at my top level. That was one of the last chances I had that year to lay it down, and I was super excited when I made it happen. It was the first national level event that I’d won.

Q: What is the biggest piece of advice you have for aspiring kids who want to be sitting where you are today?
TM: I would say always say seize every opportunity to get better and always strive to work at the highest end of your ability, never hold anything back.

Share your story by telling us what makes YOU a champion on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram by using the hashtag #WhatMakesAChamp for a chance to be featured amongst your favorite U.S. Freestyle Ski Team athletes.