Ski cross champion Kelsey Serwa says the path to her 16 World Cup podium finishes started with family time in B.C.’s mountains
When the gates drop, four racers start speeding down the slope on a track that is full of “big rollers and jumps.” Not only do they need to be able to react to what’s in front of them, they also need to be super fast because only the first two to cross the finish line will advance to the next round. That’s how Kelsey Serwa describes ski cross, the sport in which she’s made a big name for herself.
Her enthusiasm is unmistakable as she speaks about ski cross and her path to becoming a member of the Canada Ski Cross team, a world champion, a national champion, an X-Games gold medalist and an Olympic silver medalist. It’s a path that starts at – and always circles back to – the mountains of British Columbia.
Navigating a ski cross course is no easy feat, but Ms. Serwa’s upbringing has helped to make her more than comfortable in this kind of environment – after all, she started skiing as soon as she could walk. “I have an older brother and sister and I tried to follow them around the mountains as soon and as much as possible,” she laughs. “We are so fortunate to have such a giant playground in B.C., whether it’s the coastal range, the mountains in the interior or the Kootenays – there is so much to choose from. With such a variety of terrain, there is something to fit every skier at every level.”
Ms. Serwa, who started skiing lessons at age six, began her career on the “super mellow slopes and magic carpet lift at Big White.” She fondly recalls a time when her family would head out to Big White Ski Resort – the resort that her grandfather Cliff Serwa co-founded – every Friday after school and return on Monday morning, just in time for the next school week.
“That was part of my life growing up,” she says. “We had lots of great experiences and fun in the mountains – I appreciate every minute of it.”
There are many options for families to enjoy winter sports activities together at B.C.’s resorts, which offer runs for every age and ability, as well as daycare for the youngest family members. For those who are keen to advance their abilities, Ms. Serwa recommends ski instructors. “They are fantastic. Whether you spend 10 days or 150 days on the snow a year, they’re able to give pointers for each person at each level.”
And the fun isn’t confined to the slopes. B.C.’s ski areas have “tons to do on the mountain but also off the mountain,” says Ms. Serwa. Snow sports enthusiasts who are not skiers also have lots of activities to choose from, such as tubing, sledding, skating, fat-tire biking and snowshoeing.
Like Big White, the other resorts in the interior region – Sun Peaks Resort and SilverStar Mountain Resort – also have extensive facilities to cater to families, making sure there’s never a dull moment.
Families looking for powder and varied steeps in a resort are guaranteed to find a match in the resorts in the Kootenays at RED Mountain Resort, Revelstoke Mountain Resort, Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, Panorama Mountain Resort, Fernie Alpine Resort, Whitewater Ski Resort and Kimberley Alpine Resort.
For those looking to mingle with an international crowd, heading to Whistler Blackcomb may be the best bet. Skiers who want to get up close and personal with top athletes can join Whistler Blackcomb’s Ski with an Olympian program for some quality time with their heroes.
Visitors to B.C. resorts will find that there is a name of a star athlete connected to every mountain. And winter sports enthusiasts don’t just have the chance to follow their role models’ tracks – they are also bound to share the slopes with the next generation of hopefuls.
They may also get a chance to see athletes like Ms. Serwa in action. And what’s next for her? “I want to bring home a gold medal at the 2018 Olympics. And we have another world championship coming up before that,” says Ms. Serwa, who has earned 16 World Cup podium finishes to date. “My main goal is to stay healthy, have fun and be consistent in my results.”
For more inspiration on B.C.’s top ski areas, visit winterwithin.ca.
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