There’s often a sombre tone to retirement, especially for athletes who know little else.
After the applause, many who made a living — and forged an identity — on the fields, rinks and hills can face stiff questions about what to do next.
While we’re certain life away from the Olympics and World Cups will be challenging, we’re also certain there are few better prepared for that next chapter than Kelowna’s Kelsey Serwa.
The 29-year-old Serwa announced her retirement from competitive ski-cross racing on Thursday, a decision that came amid her exams to become a physiotherapist. She’s also getting married in September.
It’s news that — while not totally surprising — leaves us a little saddened.
Serwa is Kelowna’s finest export in years, maybe ever.
She retires an Olympic champion, having won gold last February in South Korea. Four years prior to that, she won silver in Sochi, Russia.
Then, there are those two X Games gold medals, that World Championship and those World Cup podium finishes.
When she returned from Korea last winter, the city stopped to honour her.
Her smile lit up cameras for days, both in the city and atop Big White where she learned to ski.
You couldn’t have asked for a better ambassador to this city than Kelsey Serwa.
As a role model, her congenial approach to fans belies her competitive spirit on the ski hill.
Ski cross involves jostling for position with three other athletes barrelling down a hill. It’s not for the faint of heart.
But if you’ve ever spoken with Serwa, you wouldn’t be alone in thinking she’s too nice to play rough.
That Olympic gold medal would suggest otherwise.
Serwa is saying goodbye because the sport has taken its toll on her mind and her body.
“It’s never always happy rainbows and butterflies all the time,” Serwa said.
But she’s also the kind of person we fully expect to find success in whatever field she chooses next.
Her competitive drive is being filled now with mountain bike racing.
It wouldn’t surprise any of us here to find her bouncing off hills and zipping past competitors—on two wheels instead of two skis.
So, yes, happy retirement Kelsey and best of luck in your new life.
This is so well deserved.
It’s been wonderful to share some small piece of your heart-racing journey.
We will see you soon.