Terwiel’s halfway to her Olympic goal

Elli Terwiel scores 11th, a personal best, in Levi, Finland.
Elli Terwiel scores 11th, a personal best, in Levi, Finland.

Let’s talk about Elli.

This little Heffley-ite has been buzzing around Sun Peaks ever since she could put on a pair of skis. She got fast early chasing her big brother, Justin, around the mountain, then joined the Nancy Greene ski league in the Sun Peaks Alpine Club (SPAC) at the ripe old age of five.

I met Elli when she was 10 and man, she had attitude. She thought she was the bee’s knees of the J4 program. She was clearly a standout, but not the best. That honour went to her teammate for the next seven years — Wiktoria Glowczynski.

For Elli, this was a godsend. She had to work really hard to beat Vic, and they had a fierce rivalry going all through juvenile and junior years. Elli learned that she couldn’t rely on talent alone, she needed to work.

SPAC also had a few older girls in the club, Megan Kidston and Andrea Newmarch who were not only older than Elli and Vic, but they were way faster.

Although Elli and Vic were ranked first and second in B.C. in their age group, they weren’t the fastest on the team. The older girls laid a whipping on the young girls each week, and I really encouraged this healthy competition. This taught Elli not to quit, no matter the odds — a lesson she’s applied well to her life.

Unfortunately for women’s ski racing, Wictoria succumbed to a knee injury, taking her out of the game.

Fast forward 10 years to 2013. Elli’s had a lot of ups and downs, including making the National Team but being dropped by it when she blew her knee out and didn’t recovery fast enough for them.

Instead of giving up, she decided to take more on her plate entering college and racing for the University of Vermont. She had such a successful year that she won a NorAm title ensuring her a start in every World Cup slalom, and a spot back on the Canadian National Team, which happens to be one of the best female slalom teams in the world.

Elli’s tenacity and desire to be the best resulted in an outstanding race in the first World Cup slalom of this season in Levi, Finland on November 16.

Levi is one of the easier hills on the circuit and is a flat-out drag race to the finish. The top 30 finishes were separated by only 1.6 seconds.

Elli absolutely ripped the first run and was in 4th place when she came down after starting 32nd. Eventually, a few girls bumped her down to 7th place in the first run, but still set her up for an amazing 11th place finish overall.

I don’t need to tell you that the pressure to perform in that second run is enormous. Elli just approached it the same way she had in training — by focusing on the process and not the outcome, and had she not made that little mistake in the final seconds of the course, she may have even been on the podium.

She ended up 11th — her best World Cup finish to date — and is half way to qualifying for the Sochi Olympics.

Something else to be excited about is that she reached top 30 on the WCSL (World Cup start list). This is a huge accomplishment and a massive milestone in a ski racer’s career. This means she starts in the big show (full TV production and viewership in the hundreds of millions each week) and, not only does she have a better chance to score World Cup points, she gets the confidence knowing that she truly is one of the best in the world.

It takes a community to raise a champion and Sun Peaks can be proud that we’re all part of her success. She still has a lot of work to do, but rest assured she’ll give it her all. Go Elli go!

Click here to check out Elli Terwiel’s latest results.

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