West Vancouver’s Georgia Simmerling made a triumphant return to the sporting world Friday, helping Canada capture silver in a World Cup team pursuit track cycling race.
It was the first time competing on the world stage for Simmerling since she broke both her legs in a World Cup ski cross race last January, weeks before she was meant to compete at the Winter Olympic Games. Last year’s ski cross crash put an end to Simmerling’s incredible multi-sport career, as the 29-year-old decided to retire from competitive skiing after sustaining the injury.
Over the past decade Simmerling has put together a stunning resume that included alpine racing at the 2010 Olympic Games in Whistler and ski cross at the 2014 Games in Sochi. She then made an unprecedented switch to track cycling and made history in 2016, becoming the first Canadian athlete to compete in three different Olympics in three different sports. In Rio Simmerling claimed her first Olympic medal, winning bronze in track cycling team pursuit.
On Friday she returned to the track – her first elite cycling race since the 2016 Olympics – and teamed up with Allison Beveridge of Calgary; Ariane Bonhomme of Gatineau, Que.; and Annie Foreman-Mackey of Kingston, Ont., to take silver behind the host country on Friday in Cambridge, New Zealand.
“I am so proud to be (back) on this team!” Simmerling wrote in an Instagram message. “We are starting to jive, and I could not be more stoked to be a part of what’s to come for this squad. … I will take a silver medal with these girls for my first race back in 2.5 years with so much happiness and excitement.”
Well, holyyy shit. I am so proud to be (back) on this team! We rode faster than any World Cup team has all year, a time that was loads of seconds faster than two of us had ever ridden! That, in itself is so huge! . A week ago I had my first fall on the track. I was battered physically, tweaking my left knee which brought wayyy too many fresh memories back. My confidence in my own capabilities was at a low to begin with coming into this race, so a hard hit did nothing to improve that. I didn’t know if I was physically capable of two team pursuit rides in one day, let alone THREE, AND coming just 1 second short of this team’s fastest ride-ever! Ah, what the mind is capable of. . We are starting to jive, and I could not be more stoked to be apart of what’s to come for this squad (yay, squad goals!🦸♀️🤣). I will take a silver medal with these girls for my first race back in 2.5 years with so much happiness and excitement. And way to go boys on a silver medal also and yet another pb! . . Oh hell yah!🙌
Canada looked strong racing into the final. Their first-round time of four minutes, 15.179 seconds was the fastest of the day and less than one second off the national record set at the 2016 Rio Olympics. The New Zealand team won the final with a time of 4:16.028, with Canada finishing 1.242 seconds back.
“While we weren’t quite able to top the Kiwis in the final, I’m extremely pleased with the team’s performances today” said women’s track endurance coach Craig Griffin in a Cycling Canada release. “Everyone has worked really hard in the last few months and it’s beginning to pay dividends.”