Terwiel retires on top after two-decade career

Elli Terwiel - Photo Supplied by Anne TerwielOlympic ski racer and Sun Peaks hero Elli Terwiel officially hung up her ski boots at the end of March, after a two-decade long career.
From strapping on her first set of skis at 18 months of age, entering her first race when she was four years old, and returning from injury to represent Canada at the Sochi Winter Olympics, along with many wins across FIS, NCAA and Nor-Am series and countless podium placements; 26-year-old Terwiel has well and truly made her mark as one of B.C.’s most determined alpine athletes.
SPIN caught up with Terwiel about her decision to retire from ski racing and her plans for the future.
“It was a pretty natural time to retire,” Terwiel said. “I had completed the Olympics and I’d just returned to school for the third year of my engineering degree.
“This past year I’d also finished my last year of eligibility for racing for the University of Vermont; and I’m not ranked in the World Cup at the moment, so the cumulative effect of that led me to a natural spot to end my career.”
Terwiel said completing her Civil Engineering Degree was her main focus.
“You can only be successful at things if you put your whole heart and soul into them, and I think that’s why I’ve been successful at skiing. I need to put that sort of effort into my engineering degree as well.”
Recovering from injuries in time to compete at the 2014 Winter Olympics has also taken its toll.
“I just need to give my body some time to heal. It’s been injured a lot over the past few years, and I’d love to start skiing recreationally next year with a healthy body.
“I’ll definitely be a skier for life, but I’m closing the chapter on my competitive career.”
With 20 plus years of racing to draw from, Terwiel said she had many great memories from her career. Being selected for the Canadian Olympic team and a strong World Cup placement — Terwiel reached a career high of 11th at the World Championships in Levi, Finland in 2013 — were standouts.
But it was her recovery from a potentially career-ending knee injury and 15 months of rehabilitation in 2009 that holds a particularly fond memory for Terwiel.
“One of my most memorable moments was the first Nor-Am I ever won. It was my second race back after tearing my knee and being told I might not be able to come back, and all the toll that comes with that. So the fact that it was my second race back and my first ever Nor-Am win was very special to me.”
Following Terwiel’s final race at the NCAA Skiing Championships in March, she announced her retirement on Facebook.
“Today I retired from ski racing. I’ve spent the past 20 years of my life chasing crazy dreams, achieving some of them and having an amazing time in pursuit of them. I’ll always be a skier and I absolutely still love my sport, and that’s the way I would like to remember it. . .
“Thank you so much to every person who has supported me along the way. This wasn’t just my own personal journey but that of my family and my small community as well. Thank you to everyone at Sun Peaks who came to the Elli Extravaganza’s and to all the great coaches, on and off hill that I’ve had all the way.
“To anyone considering putting their kids in sport, or who has a kid in hot pursuit of athletic success, it’s worth it. I’m a much better person for the experience I gained through sport. I’m more resilient, strong and motivated because of my years of training.
“ . . . My favourite thing about skiing was the pursuit of technical perfection and how far I could push myself to succeed. I’m looking forward to finding new goals to fight for. In the meantime, it’s time to hammer down on the engineering homework.”