As a first-time international competitor Brooke Lacey never in a million years thought people would be asking for her autograph, but that’s exactly what happened during her time at the 29th Winter Universiade Krasnoyarsk 2019 in Siberia, Russia March 2 to 13.
“I never pictured myself being able to compete at such an advanced level in a foreign country. It’s crazy that I had the chance to compete against professional athletes, and spend two weeks surrounded by professionals, such as athletes in the KHL (The Kontinental Hockey League), people who have won world cups and international competitions,” she said.
Lacey was selected to represent Team Canada at the competition as the only female slopestyle competitor which gave her the unique experience of having her own team of coaches, and a physiotherapist and doctor working with her. She noted it didn’t feel out of the ordinary to be the only Canadian competitor as four other countries sent only one representative for slopestyle.
“I went in advance in plans of being able to get some practice days on the nearby ski resorts. Unfortunately, the coaches were told that we weren’t allowed to snowboard until our assigned practice times, which was two days before the competition and for two hours both days, which isn’t very much time.”
During those training days Lacey faced wind and icy conditions making it difficult to get a clean run in, describing the terrain as an ice rink she was happy to place ninth in qualifiers.
“Of course I would have loved a better result, but being my first international competition and competing against girls who are considered professional snowboarders by their country, I’m happy with my results,” said Lacey. “With future competitions and more experience under my belt I hope for better results.”
The Winter Universiade Krasnoyarsk is created for athletes attending post-secondary education to compete internationally. For Lacey, the event was her first international experience, but many competitors in attendance are considered professional by their countries which gave them an advantage over first-time athletes such as Lacey.
“I decided I just need to enjoy the moment, try my best and have fun. So that’s what I did to help beat the nerves. At the top, before my runs, I made my coach jam Biggie Smalls and made him rap and dance with me.”
“What I didn’t realize is that all of that was televised on a Russian sports channel that’s their equivalent of TSN or ESPN, so Russians probably think Canadian snowboarders are the biggest goofs now.”
Going into the event, Lacey stated, she didn’t realize how big the event was in Europe. She completed many interviews and was stopped for photos and autographs constantly throughout her two-week stay.
“My most memorable moment was each elementary school in Krasnoyarsk was assigned a country that was coming to the games two years ago, so we got the chance to go to an elementary school that has been learning about Canada for the last two years, and their excitement to meet and welcome us so warmly was humbling.”
Taking away a desire to continue pursuing competitive snowboarding Lacey is back home in Kamloops finishing her third year as a business student at Thompson Rivers University.