By Adam Williams
Kamloops This Week
Three months after her first Olympic appearance, Elli Terwiel is taking a step back in her alpine skiing career.
The 25-year-old Sun Peaks native was a member of Alpine Canada’s slalom ski team in 2013-2014, but was left off the roster when the 2014-2015 team was named earlier this month.
But, Terwiel’s OK with that.
The University of Vermont engineering student has taken time away from the national team before and said she had some of her best ski racing experiences.
Terwiel wasn’t surprised her name wasn’t called — she had expected to be left off the team. The squad depends heavily on the previous year’s results and she spent much of her 2013-2014 season battling injuries.
“Last year was a great year for me in the fact that I felt like I was skiing really well,” Terwiel told KTW.
“However, I had a couple injuries that really set me back, including a concussion and compressing a disk in my lower back at the very end of the season.
“So, this coming year, I think I’m going to take it a bit easier.”
Terwiel is getting back into the swing of things with her academic career, taking a few summer courses at Vermont. She stepped away from the university during the 2013-2014 academic year, choosing instead to focus on her skiing.
Though the draw of education didn’t lose its hold on her, she still found the time to complete an online course at Thompson Rivers University.
Now, Terweil is enjoying being back in the classroom and is on track to graduate with her civil-engineering degree in 2016.
“It feels great,” she said. “I really love the work that I’m doing at school so I’m really excited about the opportunity to use my brain.”
The return to Vermont also means the return to NCAA ski racing when the snow begins to fall.
Terwiel is a member of her school’s ski team, the Vermont Catamounts.
Along with learning from an experienced alpine coach, skiing at the university gives her the opportunity to compete with teammates who also have history on national teams — Canada, Norway and the United States, among them.
Despite having its frustrating moments, Terwiel looks back on 2013-2014 with pride. Finishing at 11th in the first World Cup race of the season was a big moment for the Canadian, who later qualified to represent her country at the 2014 Sochi Olympic Winter Games.
“I’m really proud of the preparation I put into last season,” she said.
“I’m also extremely proud and still quite excited by the result I had at my first World Cup last year. I mean, I was 11th in the world — I was seventh after the first run — and that skiing felt really normal to me.
“I’m really proud of the effort that I put into the season. I think it’s unfortunate that I got injured — that’s a reality of my sport and it’s something you can’t really control.”
What the future has in store for Terwiel is anyone’s guess, but the 25-year-old isn’t thinking too far ahead. She’ll return to the mountains with Vermont, continue her education and see where life takes her.
Maybe she’ll make an Olympic return in 2018, maybe she won’t.
Whatever happens, Terwiel will never forget her time wearing the Maple Leaf.
“I’ll never ever forget the experience that it was,” Terwiel said of the Olympics. “Walking into the closing ceremonies with my fellow Canadian athletes, you really felt the pride that Canada had for us athletes. The support coming from Canada was felt in Russia. It was incredible.
“The experience itself, I will never forget it. I think all the performances that I’ve had over my entire career led to that point and I’m proud of the journey. I can’t believe I actually made it to the Olympics and I’m ecstatic that I was able to go.”