Troy Murphy, of the United States, jumps during the men’s moguls qualifying at Phoenix Snow Park at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, in February. (AP file photo)
Troy Murphy, the Bethel native who competed in the PyeongChang Olympics in moguls skiing, has retired from the U.S. Ski Team.
The 25-year-old Murphy finished 17th in the Olympics and was ranked 14th in the world following the 2017-18 World Cup season.
He will pursue a business degree at the University of Utah and plans to continue freeskiing throughout North America as he and a small group of friends hope to produce small films on the sport.
“It’s just the right time,” said Murphy in a phone interview from Park City, Utah. “I still love moguls skiing, I’m still invested in it and will continue to be close to it.
“But this is the perfect time to transition to something else. I don’t know if I had another four-year (Olympic) run in me. And if I’m not going to go for it, I might as well try something different.”
His father, Matt Murphy, pointed out that Troy would have had to continue to raise funds nearly year round to cover living expenses while a member of the U.S. ski team.
“When you look at the whole situation, with four more years and doing the fundraising thing and asking people for more support, to continue on that track was hard,” said Matt Murphy. “And for your 29- to 30-year-old moguls skiers (which Troy Murphy would be in 2022), it’s hard to compete against the youngsters coming through. So there was no big advantage to him staying.”
Murphy, a 2010 graduate of Bethel’s Gould Academy, said his results in the Olympics and on the World Cup circuit had nothing to do with his decision. Murphy was fourth in the Olympics moguls after the qualifying round with a season-best score of 80.95 points. But he scored only a 72.72 in the first round of the finals.
“I knew in the back of my mind for most of the winter that I wanted to try to do more freeskiing, ski for me a little more and get into the back country and try to make some (video) edits,” said Murphy. “It’s been a growing passion of mine for a while and I just figured this was the time to push through it.”
Murphy said he told his U.S. team coaches of his decision after the last World Cup event this winter. Officials with the U.S. ski team could not be reached on Tuesday.
“This just seemed like a natural decision to me,” he said. “It wasn’t hard to do. I got so much out of moguls skiing, and I’m ready to apply that elsewhere.
“A lot of my identity, and who I am, has been molded through that sport. I learned how to work hard, trusting yourself, especially when confronting things within yourself that may have been holding you back that you have overcome to move further. Networking … I met a ton of awesome people that helped me so much. It shaped a lot of the positive aspects of my personality.”
Murphy just missed qualifying for the Sochi Olympics in 2014 and was fueled by that to make the PyeongChang team, entering the year as the top-ranked U.S. moguls skier. But the lure of big mountain skiing has always been strong for Murphy. He would often spend weeks back country freeskiing in Canada and Alaska in the offseason. Now he wants to make it a bigger part of his life.
He and a small crew plan on driving around North America to ski big mountains and film it. He’s hoping to pick up sponsors to pay for their expenses. The films, which will only be a few minutes long, will be posted on social media and websites.
“The goal would be to have a group of sponsors that would give me a budget in return for content,” said Murphy. “Then they can use that content as a marketing opportunity.”
He noted many other skiers, or snowboarders such as Seth Wescott, make similar movies.
“This is primarily how the industry works outside of competition,” he said.
Murphy will work toward his college degree at the same time, aided by a scholarship he received from the U.S. Olympic Committee. He has been taking online classes over the years but in the fall will return to the classroom for five or six classes.
“I just want to go to school and see what I like and what I don’t like in that (Business) program,” he said. “I’m keeping my eyes open for the things I want to do with my life.”
He’s not ruling out a return to competitive skiing but for now he just wants to have fun with something he loves.
“This is going to be a lot more relaxed,” he said. “I won’t have to do the same run every time I go down. I won’t be looking for perfection. I can be more creative to kind of paint my own picture going down the slope.”