Patrick McMillian has taken an unconventional route to representing his country at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. McMillian was a former international rugby star with his sights set on making a career of it in Ireland.
At the age of 19 he planned on playing international rugby for the Leinster 19-U team. If it wasn’t for an administrative error, declaring him a few months too old to play for the team, he wouldn’t be where he is today. Pairing an injury with it, which occured a few month after the error, he pushed those aspiriations to the side in pursuit of other dreams.
Following the setbacks, McMillian made a decision that would forever change his life. In 2012, at the age of 21, he decided to up and move to Austria to chase his dreams of alpine skiing.
“I always loved skiing, I always loved the speed. I do it because of the speed, the thrill, the feeling that you get when you’re going 120, 130, 140kmh. There’s nothing like it,” said McMillian.
Fast-forward 5 years later, and McMillian will be representing his country of Ireland in Pyeongchang at the Winter Olympics in February. He has gone through a lot between now and then to get where he is at today. During his first few years he made substantial progress, but also experienced frustration from not getting the proper training to bring him to his highest level. That’s when he teamed up with three other alpine athletes, where he reached his fullest potential.
McMillian remains hopeful that he can bring a gold medal back home to Ireland despite his low rankings (371th in Downhill and 567th in Super G). A medal finish would substantially benefit the struggle skier. He receives assistance from Ireland snow sports organizations and brand sponsors, but it still doesn’t cover the €80,000 it costs to train and compete for 11 months of the years.
“It will be very exciting, but I’m ready for it, it’s what I wanted to do all my life,” he said.
From where his life was 7 years ago to now, it’s unfathomable to think how far he’s come. Over the next two months McMillian will be focused on properly preparing for the Olympics and lowering his world rankings as February approaches. He’s looking forward to the competition, as well as making a name for himself in downhill racing.