A year and a half removed from the sport was more than enough time for Kelsey Serwa to understand exactly what she was missing.
The 26-year-old Kelowna product is back on the World Cup ski cross circuit and the early results have been promising.
“There were a lot of uncertainties heading into this season with taking the last year and a half away from the race circuit, but I feel good about my decision and am happy to be improving each race,” said Serwa.
After a 22nd place showing at the season-opening FIS race in Montafon, Austria on Dec. 5, Serwa upped the ante over the weekend in Van Thorens, France with a pair of top tens—ninth on Friday, followed by a sixth-place finish on Saturday.
While she hasn’t found the podium just yet, the 16-time World Cup medalist is making steady progress.
“The first World Cups have been a little rusty for me, having to relearn qualifying and racing strategies but I’m definitely heading in the right direction,” Serwa said. “The big things for me right now is to patient with my progression from race to race and to be okay with not landing on the podium right away, which is definitely hard because it’s where I want to be.”
Following her silver medal win at the Vancouver Olympics in February 2014, Serwa stepped away from competitive racing to pursue her human kinetics degree at UBC Okanagan.
The time off also allowed her body to heal sufficiently, after undergoing two knee surgeries in as many years prior to the Olympics.
As for being back on the circuit with her Canadian teammates, Serwa couldn’t be happier to returning to a familiar environment.
“I am so grateful to be back on the road with my team and racing on the World Cup ski cross circuit again,” she said. “Our team is really strong right now and we are working really well together.
“Even though ski cross is an individual sport, we find strength and power in each other and are building confidence and momentum from our teammates successes thus far.”
The World Cup circuit moves to San Candido, Italy this weekend where Serwa has enjoyed her share of successes in the past. She won back-to-back races there in 2011 and another gold medal in 2012.
“My most favourite race venue on the tour,” she said of this week’s stop in Italy. “San Candido sits in the heart of the Dolomite mountains and has been very kind to me over the years.”
Another Kelowna and Big White product, Ian Deans, is back on the men’s World Cup circuit this season.
In Val Thorens last weekend, Deans placed 35th and 30th.