Each Olympian that you've been watching compete in the 2022 Winter Games has walked an incredible path to be in Beijing, and one of the women who helps spotlight their stories grew up in southeastern Wisconsin.
Megan Harrod is the Alpine Press Officer for the U.S. Ski and Snowboard team. She manages all PR and media, but there's a lot more to it. You'll likely spot her in the finish area with athletes; meanwhile, she's scouting courses, pitching stories, and managing social media accounts, and often — doing it all while on skis.
It's fair to say Harrod is on the move. It's a kind of relentless energy that her parents recognize. "She doesn't slow down too much," laughed her father, Doug Harrod.
Her mother Kate will tell you that she has always been on the go, and making friends along the way. "When Megan was a kid — even in daycare, they called her 'Magpie' because she never stopped talking," says Kate.
Harrod put on her first pair of skis in Lake Geneva, but now calls Utah home. "This is my 8th season with the team and I haven't even been in Utah in a winter season to ski it," she revealed while laughing.
Since Harrod picked up the PR reins with U.S. Ski and Snowboard back in 2014, life has only accelerated. The trip to Beijing is her second Olympic experience and coronavirus has forced some major changes, but she won't have much time to notice a spectator's perspective.
"When I'm there I'm working men's and women's speed and tech events," explained Harrod. "So basically, I have something on my calendar every day and I don't really have any time to have the full Olympic experience, outside of my own events."
Her peers, serving in the same role for other nations, are typically men. "I am one of the few females on the mountain — especially at men's events," noted Harrod. "And it's not always easy."
Harrod's highest compliment came from a former boss who told her she is changing the face of the sport in the finish area. "To me that was eye-opening," she said. "And I thought okay, I've done my job if I can shift things slightly and shift the way that people see the sport." She's actively working to amplify the role of women on the circuit, even handing out "Boss Lady" patches when she meets other female trailblazers.
Her path to the Olympic games began on Wisconsin back roads. Harrod competed in ski racing while in high school and then continued during her college career at St. Olaf in Minnesota. As her interest began to grow in those younger years, her parents recalled the realization that racing at the most elite level was not a cheap endeavor. "At the time I was a school teacher," said Doug. "And Kate was just into being a midwife. The finances of skiing, ski racing, especially to get to that top tier level was beyond us and I think our kids knew that."
Megan remembers the emotion of telling her parents that she was heading to her first Olympics in 2018. "I said, I finally was able to go to the Olympics! And they were just so thrilled about that. It just looked different than I thought it would."
Her message to younger girls is — keep your mind open to possibility. Keep moving forward and create your own path.
You can follow Megan Harrod's adventures in Beijing with Team USA on Instagram.