Skier says Army father helped her achieve Olympic dream
February 19, 2014
KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (Army News Service, Feb. 17, 2014) -- U.S. Olympic skier Jacqueline Wiles, 21, said the support of her Army father has been instrumental in allowing her to ski competitively and achieve her dream of getting to Sochi for the winter games.
Her father has been the state judge advocate of the Oregon National Guard since 2005, and he has almost 34 years in the Army. He left active duty in 1984, after serving at Fort Irwin, Calif., the Presidio of San Francisco, Calif., and in the Military District of Washington.
Wiles competed in the Olympic ladies downhill event Feb. 12, finishing 26th with a time of 1 minute 44.35 seconds, as her father, Col. David Wiles, watched from the stands.
She finished just 2.78 seconds behind Slovenia's Tina Maze and Switzerland's Dominique Gisin, who tied for the gold, both crossing the finish with a time of 1 minute 41.57 seconds. Switzerland's Lara Gut took the bronze with a time of 1:41.67.
USA's Julia Mancuso finished in 8th place, .99 or just under a second behind the leader. Her speed at the bottom was just over 100 kilometers per hour while Wiles was clocked at 99.44 KPH.
Even though her time wasn't as fast as what she hoped, Wiles said just competing and representing her country in the Olympics was a dream come true. She finished fourth among U.S. skiers in the final downhill training run at Rosa Khutor, Feb. 8, qualifying her to actually compete in the Olympic downhill event.
Wiles said she was somewhat surprised just over three weeks ago when she found out that she would definitely be coming to Sochi. Nominations for Team USA at the Olympic Winter Games are made based on World Cup standings and Wiles has only been competing on the circuit for a few months.
She was named to the U.S. Ski Team in November at Copper Mountain, Colo. Then in December, she won the Nature Valley Alpine Championship downhill title there at Copper Mountain. On Jan. 10, she won the downhill championship at Squaw Valley, Calif.
Wiles has been skiing since age 2, though, almost since she began to walk. She said her father took her and the family to Mount Hood, Ore., for regular ski outings.
"My brother and I loved to go fast," she said about her need for speed and decision to take up downhill racing at age 5. She said her father has always been supportive.
"He's so supportive of everything I do," she said. "If it wasn't for him, I probably wouldn't be here. I'm very lucky."
Both skiing and the military have been family traditions for Wiles.
Her grandparents were also Army officers during World War II. Her grandmother, then-lst Lt. Jane Wilcken, was an Army nurse in World War II at the Battle of the Bulge. Her grandfather was an Army dentist in the Pacific theater during the war.
When her father commanded Camp Riliea, Ore., from July 2011 to 2012, Jacqueline went there to observe Army training for a weekend.
"There was a little area set up to look like Afghanistan," Jacqueline said, adding that she was impressed with the training.
"Jacqueline grew up in a traditional National Guard family," the colonel said. "One weekend a month she'd see me dress up in uniform and take off."
Now the younger Wiles is known among U.S. Ski Team members for her military luggage bag.
"Everybody loves my military bag," she said. "It helps me out at the airport."
Wiles was a three-sport athlete in high school until her softball coach made her choose a sport to focus on and she decided skiing was her future.
In 2012, she was named to the national junior team.
Now she attends Westminster College in Salt Lake City on a merit scholarship. She trains half days in skiing at the location of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games.
This summer she wants to work on agility and strength training in order to get "explosive power" and endurance. Her plans are to "sleep, eat and breathe skiing."
She definitely plans to be back to the Olympics in 2018, she said, to try it again in Korea. And she's looking forward to seeing the president in May when the U.S. Ski Team visits the White House.