Georgia Simmerling retires from ski cross
She’s gritty, passionate, talented and has made Canadian Olympic history. Georgia Simmerling is one of the most iconic names in Canadian amateur sport, in both summer and winter events. At 29-years-old, Simmerling is the only Canadian athlete to compete in three different Olympics in three different sports.
After 11 years with Alpine Canada, four as an alpine athlete and seven years as a ski cross athlete, Simmerling is officially hanging up her race skis to pursue full-time training for her second summer Olympic Games.
Simmerling made the Canadian Alpine Ski Team for the 2007-2008 season and spent the first part of her career as a speed skier. She achieved a personal-best 27th-place at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games in super-G and top Canadian in super-G at the Lake Louise World Cup. These moments highlighted Simmerling’s alpine career.
“Being top Canadian at Lake Louise was an exciting experience for me,” said Simmerling. “Walking up on the podium in front of Canadian fans was an incredible feeling. And representing Canada at my home Olympics in Vancouver was something I’ll never forgot. Walking through B.C. Place in front of 60,000 fans cheering for Canada was incredible.”
“Georgia and I became friends instantly,” said Marie-Michèle Gagnon, current member of the Canadian Alpine Ski Team and former teammates with Simmerling. “Our paths eventually went different ways but whenever we see each other it’s like no time has passed. She’s one of the most talented athletes I know. She’s so strong, so powerful and so athletic. She’s a very dedicated athlete that works really hard and it’s fun to be around her because I strive to have those same values as an athlete.”
Following the 2010 season, Simmerling transitioned to ski cross as the sport started to gain traction globally. Simmerling made her first ski cross World Cup start in 2011 and hit the podium by 2012. Her storied ski cross career is filled with success, injury, friendships and unmatched determination to continue her pursuit to the podium. Simmerling closes out her ski cross career with nine World Cup podium finishes and 25 top-eight finishes.
During her first season with the Canada Ski Cross Team, Simmerling fell during a race and broke three vertebrae. She returned to competition less than one year later, when she landed her career-first podium. She continued her pursuit to qualify for her first Olympic Games as a ski cross athlete, competing in Sochi in 2014. The following season, Simmerling crashed at World Championships in January of 2015. This is where Simmerling’s multi-season Olympic journey starts.
With plates and screws in her wrists, Simmerling’s recovery started on a bike. She aggressively pursued track cycling with Cycling Canada and made her UCI World Cup debut as a track cyclist in Hong Kong in January 2016, winning team pursuit gold. She went on to win team pursuit silver at the 2016 UCI World Championships. This led Simmerling to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympic team pursuit track cycling team. Simmerling headed to the Games as the first Canadian triple-sport Olympian, having competed in alpine, ski cross and now, track cycling. Simmerling came away from the Games with a bronze medal in team pursuit and a hunger for more Olympic success.
Simmerling transitioned back to snow after the 2016 Rio Olympics, getting ready for the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang. She met the 2016-17 season with two podium finishes and eight top-ten results. Continuing with that momentum, Simmerling headed into the 2017-18 season and hit the podium twice, was in the big final four times and had six top-eight results. She was on the right trajectory for Olympic success. Unfortunately, in the last race before the Olympics, Simmerling crashed breaking both legs and tearing multiple knee ligaments. Simmerling’s goal of attending her fourth Olympic Games would be put on hold. Following surgery, she has been diligently rehabbing with the ultimate goal of joining Cycling Canada for her second Summer Olympic Games and fourth Olympic Games in 2020
“This injury has been the hardest mentally and physically to overcome so I’ve had to work the hardest I have ever to maintain a positive outlook and keep focused,” said Simmerling. “I believe a positive mind feeds the body and my body is responding to that. It’s amazing to see the progression every day.”
“Georgia is the most positive, passionate and dedicated person I know,” said Kelsey Serwa, teammate and member of the Canada Ski Cross team. “She has redefined what is possible as the only Canadian athlete in history to complete and be successful in three different sports at three Olympic Games. Above all that, she is an incredible human being who is compassionate and supportive. As a friend and teammate, I feel very fortunate to have shared countless adventures with this incredible woman and can say that my life is that much brighter with her in it. This girl is unstoppable, and I am greatly looking forwards to following her journey as she powers her way to the 2020 Olympics and beyond.”
“I want to thank each of my teammates,” said Simmerling. “They’ve pushed me and helped me grow as an athlete, on and off the hill. Kelsey [Serwa] has been a huge part of my success and I want to thank her for everything she’s given me as a teammate. My coaches have had a huge impact on my career. I have had many coaches in my career and I think that’s been part of what has made me successful. They have all brought something unique to the table and given me a big repertoire of skills to be successful.”
Simmerling’s ski cross retirement is also her announcement that she be focusing fulltime on track cycling in pursuit of another summer medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. She closes out her ski career with nine World Cup ski cross podiums and two Winter Olympic Games.
“I didn’t expect to be starting from scratch in my pursuit to the 2020 Games,” said Simmerling. “It’s a bit daunting but I’m really excited to get back to a sport that I have more information about than I did the last time I started in it. With my personal successes in cycling and with my teammates, I’m really excited about the prospect of being on a team again. It’s crazy to think of where I’ll be in the next few months. I’m excited to see where this journey takes me and knowing that I have the support from my winter and summer teammates is huge. I’m excited for the Road to 2020!”
source: Alpine Canada