Q and A with Kelsey Serwa
GFL is proud to sponsor Olympic Gold and Silver Medalist, World Champion, two-time X Games Gold Medalist and all-round ski cross superstar Kelsey Serwa this season. We chatted with Kelsey about her life with Team Canada, her passions outside of sport, and how a nasty injury led to a career high.
GFL: Hi Kelsey. Can you tell us how your partnership with GFL came about?
KS: My fiancé (Pro-Skier Stan Rey) and I connected with Patrick (Dovigi, GFL Founder and CEO) through Stan’s family. Stan’s father, Eric, is a skiing instructor at Whistler Blackcomb and Patrick was a client of his. Eric loved skiing with Patrick and learning about GFL, so Stan and I thought it would be a cool opportunity to approach Patrick to see if he’d like to sponsor us this season. It’s been a wonderful partnership—Patrick is a passionate, generous, kind-hearted man and we feel really fortunate to be associated with him and GFL.
GFL: How does GFL’s sponsorship help to support you?
KS: It allows me to be the best in my sport during competition, and to focus whole-heartedly on training during the off-season. Competitive season runs from early December to mid-April, and although we get some time off at the end of April and into May, we’re back to full-time physical training June through to December, and that’s about six hours a day, six days a week.
GFL: Apart from your sport, what are the passions in your life?
KS: I’m a part-time student of Human Kinetics at the University of British Columbia Okanagan Campus in my hometown Kelowna, BC, and I’d like to get into Physiotherapy eventually. I did a full course load this fall from September to December, and then hopped on a plane to Europe right after my final exam to meet the skiing team! I also like to give back to my community as much as possible, as my way of saying thank you for providing me with so much opportunity. I created a scholarship fund to support Grade 12 graduating student-athletes in Kelowna pursuing athletic and academic excellence. I am the sole fundraiser and manager of that, and I get to give out the awards in June. I also like to do motivational activities with kids in and around the community, or donate my skis to fundraisers, just as my small ways of giving back.
GFL: How do you spend your downtime?
KS: I crochet and I knit, which is a good time-killer when I’m travelling. I enjoy being outdoors, hiking, road cycling, mountain biking, and any watersports. I’m big into yoga and the meditation component, and how that helps my performance in sport.
GFL: Do you have any favourite places you’ve competed?
KS: Russia was cool, but it takes a long time to get there! South Korea was incredible for the Olympics, and the people were so nice. I really like going up to Sweden, the track there is one of the bigger ones on tour and totally different to what you’d see anywhere else, so it’s an alternative approach to racing which is neat. The race organizers do an incredible job of putting on a great event there.
GFL: This may seem like an obvious question, but what is your career highlight?
KS: The 2018 Olympics were definitely a career highlight, but looking back, the one occasion I’m most proud of actually is back in 2011. [I was competing] at the X Games, and I was leading going over the finish jump and because I was in first place on take-off, I happened to be first in landing too. I ended up soaring 150 feet, and I landed on my bum then tumbled through the finish line. I sustained three compression fractures in my t-spine, as well as some pretty severe whiplash, a bruised tailbone, and a scraped-up face, but we had World Championships the next week in Utah, so I basically had one week to try and recover, and I missed all the training for it. I showed up on race day and ended up winning the competition despite barely being able to move—and that’s one of my prouder moments, just because of what I had to overcome in so little time.
GFL: Can you describe what being part of Team Canada means to you?
KS: It’s an incredible honour—everyone who puts on the Team Canada jacket has worked extremely hard. I think it’s an instant kinship you experience with your teammates, and some of them are your idols and some of them you’ve never met, but at that moment, we’re all there as equals and for the same purpose—to do our best, to make our country proud and ourselves proud.
GFL: And even though you’re competing against your teammates, you still have good camaraderie?
KS: Exactly. I feel like Brittany (Phelan, Kelsey’s teammate who won Silver at the 2018 Olympics) and I have a special bond—I don’t think anyone’s as pumped as I am when she does well, and that’s a mutual thing because of the bond between us. I feel so fortunate because not only are we great friends, we’re also teammates who want to do well ourselves and that pushes us to be our best. Even the competitors in our sport from other countries, we spend all year with them and train with them in the summer, so you develop a respect and camaraderie for sure.
GFL: Last question: do you have a career goal that you haven’t reached yet?
KS: The only thing I haven’t done in my sport is win the Crystal Globe, for the overall athlete that performed the best all season. Other than that, I’m the only ski cross athlete of both men and women with multiple Olympic medals, and I’ve won the World Championships, X Games, and world cups, so the Crystal Globe is the only thing I haven’t been able to accomplish.