Kelsey Serwa, the Canadian who overcame Olympic heartbreak and three season-ending knee surgeries to earn ski cross gold at the PyeongChang Winter Games, has retired at age 29.
“I love racing. I love that feeling. But now for sure I’m like ‘OK, my time has come, and I’m ready for the next stages of my life,'” Serwa said, according to the Canadian Press.
Those next stages include completing her undergraduate degree from the University of British Columbia Okanagan, marrying former teammate Stan Rey in the fall and getting her Masters in physiotherapy.
Serwa’s career began before ski cross debuted at the Olympics in 2010. The Alpine skiing convert earned her first X Games medal (bronze) a month before the Vancouver Games, making her a medal threat in her native British Columbia at age 20.
But Serwa was passed down the stretch in her semifinal in her Olympic debut, just missing the medal final. She ended up fifth. Serwa’s next Olympic cycle proved her most challenging. After winning X Games and the world championships in 2011, she tore her left ACL in back-to-back seasons.
Serwa made it back for the Sochi Olympics, taking silver behind countrywoman Marielle Thompson. She considered retiring a year before the PyeongChang Winter Games after requiring a third knee surgery but pressed on.
Serwa entered her third Olympics an underdog, ranking sixth in the World Cup standings with one podium (a third place) in nearly two years. But Serwa led nearly from start to finish in the final and went one-two with her often-time roommate for international competitions, countrywoman Brittany Phelan.
“Finishing second in Sochi, that was kind of my decision-maker to go one more Olympics,” Serwa said, according to the Canadian Press. “Looking back, it kind of perfectly jumped from one to the other. The Olympic gold medal is just the cherry on top of it all.”
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