Proud mom ready for Olympics
February 5, 2018
When the Winter Olympics commence on Friday in PyeongChang, South Korea, Carson Valley will have its own tie to the Games.
Maddie Bowman, the inaugural gold medalist in the women's free skiing halfpipe during the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia, has qualified for her second Olympic Games. She joins a handful of athletes with local ties including David Wise (halfpipe skiing, Reno) and South Lake Tahoe's Jamie Anderson (slopestyle snowboarding).
Bowman's mother, Sue Perpall, has been a registered nurse in Carson Valley Medical Center's surgery unit for nine years. Prior to that, she worked for Barton Health, where she continues to teach.
Bowman, who lives in South Lake Tahoe, will enter the Olympics with a full head of steam, having won an X Games gold medal on Jan. 26 — marking the fifth time she's won the skiing halfpipe at that competition.
Perpall, along with Maddie's brother, Alec, and Maddie's boyfriend Brian, will leave for the Olympics on Saturday, stopping first in Japan before arriving in South Korea on Feb. 16. Maddie will compete on Feb. 19.
"We're really looking forward to it," Perpall said. "The day before Maddie's event we'll do a dry run of how to get to the site and see how the process works, what security is like. We don't want to be late on the day of.
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"We'd love to see some other events, too. Sometimes the United States Olympic Committee has extra tickets; last time they offered us tickets to different events."
Whatever the experience, it'll be hard to top what happened last time around.
"It doesn't hit you all at once," Perpall said. "She won an Olympic gold medal. How do you begin to process that? It kind of settles in over a longer period of time. Every once in a while, it just kind of comes to you like, 'Oh wow, that really happened.'"
She mused about the experience of being in Russia as well.
"It was interesting," she said. "Russia, they don't have a firm grasp on capitalism and customer service — things like that. Everything we planned was canceled at least once by the Russians."
Perpall said her family returned home to a house decorated in flags and yellow bows. Sierra-at-Tahoe organized a parade for Maddie, along with fellow Olympians Jamie Anderson and Hannah Teter.
Maddie returned to a week-long media tour in New York.
"She hated that," Perpall said with a laugh. "She was there by herself and at that point she really just wanted to come back home."
She also returned to countless messages of support, both hand-written and in digital format.
"She was so touched by that, by so many reaching out to send their congratulations," Perpall said. "She really felt it was important to respond to each message personally. So she did. It took her a good couple of months, but she responded to each one."
Bowman competed for most of that 2014 season on a knee injury and had surgery shortly after her return from the Olympics.
"That was tough, but she made it through and she really has her head together," Perpall said. "She's having a really good time skiing."
Bowman's event begins with a qualification round, during which she must finish within the top 12 competitors to make the finals on Feb. 20.
"You have to land a run that first day, for sure," Perpall said. "Then, hopefully, we get to come back the next day. We'll stay and watch the men's halfpipe finals, too. We have good friends there. The moms are all our own social group down there. It's a good time."
Every Olympic event will be available to stream live and on-demand on NBCOlympics.com and will be televised on NBC, NBCSN as well as the NBC Universal networks.