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With Olympic fever still lingering, one of Canada’s future Olympic hopefuls is giving high marks to Okanagan College.
Kelsey Serwa, a member of Canada’s National Ski Cross team and reigning champion of the Ski Cross World Championships, is wrapping up her second successful term at the College’s Kelowna campus before heading to the snowfield in Mount Hood, Oregon for training.
“I go to Okanagan College this time of year because it’s the only time I’m free from training and racing, so it works well with my schedule,” she said. “I came back from four weeks of dry land training in Whistler to take my finals, and I wouldn’t be able to do that if it wasn’t for the College.”
Serwa, who turns 23 in September, has taken classes in anatomy, physiology, English and psychology, all in preparation for a degree in physiotherapy.
“I like the smaller classes because you don’t feel intimidated asking questions,” she said. “The teachers give you the guidance you need, but you’re really working independently. And I think there’s more of a relationship between the students as well. We’re all willing to help each other.”
Serwa works hard on the slopes, and equally hard on the books. Entering into exams, she’s never sure how well she did, but regularly averages 90 per cent.
Serwa said she’s one of the few members of her team who not only put time into her sport career, but also into her studies.
“You can’t be an athlete forever,” said Serwa, noting her body is still recovering from the knee injury she sustained last January when she crashed during the World Cup race in the Alpe d’Huez resort in France.
“What I also like about school is that it keeps your brain working in a different way. Competing at a world class level requires great mental abilities, but when I’m in school, I’m developing a different kind of skill,” she said, adding her parents always reminded her that no matter what, school came first, sports second.
Now with her finals all done, Serwa can focus her attention on the upcoming season, which includes plans to defend her FIS Freestyle World Ski Championship title in Myrkdalen, Norway in February.
“No matter whether it’s school or sport, people are always more motivated to learn what they want to learn, and it makes a real difference to be in a place where instructors are helpful, the setting is beautiful, and students are willing to share.”