West Vancouver's Georgia Simmerling has put together one of the wildest and most impressive Olympic careers of any athlete in Canadian history, and it all started at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.
Then just 20-years-old, Simmerling was a late addition to Canada’s alpine ski team after several racers suffered injuries in the lead-up to the Games. She hit the slopes for super-G in Whistler and finished 27th.
Simmerling would go on to switch sports and race ski cross for the 2014 Winter Games and then make an even bigger switch, all the way to the Summer Games, to compete in track cycling in 2016. She made history in Rio, becoming the first Canadian athlete ever to compete in three different sports in three different Games. She also hit the podium, earning bronze in team pursuit.
Simmerling was set to compete in ski cross again in 2018 but a nasty crash which broke both her legs, one of several serious injuries she’s sustained in her career, forced her to quit the ski game for good. She’s still racing on two wheels, however, and has her sights set on cometing in track cycling at the 2020 Olympic Games later this year in Tokyo.
The North Shore News caught up with her recently to get some of her memories from the 2010 Games where it all started.
What was it like competing at home in an Olympic Games?
It was one of the most incredibly experiences of my entire life, without a doubt. There are a few memories that will always stick with me from those Home Olympics, one being walking into the Opening Ceremonies and looking up at the crowd surrounding the Canadian Team and thinking, "they're all cheering for us, this team, this country. This is unbelievable."
What was the fan support like for you?
The Canadian fans were amazing. I remember walking in Whistler Village with my family, and everyone would stop and cheer and wave at me, not because I was a medal hopeful, but because I was a Canadian athlete. I remember feeling an incredible sense of unity to everyone.
How do you feel about your performance?
My performance at the Games was a big roller coaster of emotions. I was expected to race in the women's downhill event, but literally 10 minutes before I was supposed to leave the start gate, my coaches made an executive decision based off the conditions of the course, and pulled me. Getting yourself amped up physically and mentally for something like a downhill race takes a lot of energy, and even more so when you're 21, competing at your home Olympics for the first time in front of your family and friends, and then to not get to compete. You can imagine the roller coaster of emotions that were racing through me. I raced in the super G event, and crossing the finish line in that race was an incredible experience, hearing the crowd cheer me on. It was a feeling that most athletes in their lifetime don't get to experience, I will cherish those amazing memories for the rest of my life.
What moment from the 2010 Games is seared into your memory forever?
I think crossing the finish line of the Super G event, and walking through the crowd after to find my family and loved ones.
How do you feel anytime you hear that “I believe” music start playing now?
I get goose bumps for sure. It was so inspiring and really united us all.
What are you up to now?
Training for the next Summer Olympics in Tokyo!
What advice would you give to aspiring Olympians?
Never stop believing in yourself. Dream big, and if you work hard, like really really hard, anything is possible. I have overcome countless of coaches and doctors telling me I wouldn't make it, or I can’t come back from this injury or that injury, but I've always believed I would, and I did.