McGuire started out in bobsleigh as a junior but switched to skeleton when he was 13 years old after his sister took up the sport. He has not looked back, emerging among the top skeleton athletes in his age group this season.
The 16-year-old currently tops the International Bobsleigh & Skeleton Federation rankings in men’s youth skeleton. In November 2019, he won twice at his home track in Lake Placid, a feat he is looking to match in St. Moritz.
And when he competes in the men’s event on Monday, he will be using a familiar piece of equipment.
“I am racing with the sled my sister used in Lillehammer,” McGuire said. “We went to the manufacturer to change the saddle and frame but the pod and shape of the sled is still the same.”
The sled is engraved with a Latin phrase meaning “fortune favours the bold”.
“You have to be a little bit crazy to compete in skeleton anyway,” McGuire said.
Kalyn, who finished 16th in Lillehammer, has not been the only person to inspire McGuire. His mother, Kimberly, is the US team’s sport coordinator and he is coached by Lauri Bausch, who also used to coach Kalyn.
“His sister is a little bit more bubbly, as James has always been a quieter one,” Bausch said. “Kalyn was the first to do skeleton and he got to watch her and then follow her steps, instead of struggling through it and not really knowing what the sport was like.”
Bausch is urging McGuire to stay calm and in control on the track.
“I am hoping he does not try to be perfect on race day and slow himself down,” she said. “Their sport is not just about who can drive the best lines but rather who is fastest.
“When he keeps it simple, I think he will be pretty content with the outcome of his race.”