By Cam Tucker
Inside the Vancouver Convention Centre last month, Kelsey Serwa stood up to the microphone and delivered a speech about competing as an Olympian.
Mentioned in there were the words “fear” and “anxiety.”
Those words are appropriate when talking about Serwa’s plight in getting back to the Olympics as a member of Canada’s ski cross team
Serwa, who grew up in Kelowna, competed in the 2010 Games in Vancouver, finishing fifth. But a trip to Sochi looked like it might be in doubt when, two World Cup seasons ago, she suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament after a fall on a landing and underwent surgery to repair the damage.
She tore her ACL again last March, causing her to miss the latter part of the 2012-13 season. Despite her injuries, the 24-year-old Serwa has shown she’s capable of not only returning to competition, but to the podium — a familiar place for her over the years, with 16 World Cup podiums since 2009.
Among her triumphs was a first-place finish at the pre-Olympic race in Sochi last February.
“I think at first there’s always that uncertainty of will I ever be able to come back as good as I was before I got injured,” Serwa said on Jan. 27, when Canada’s Olympic ski cross teams were named.
“But I’ve been busting my butt and working really hard. I have a great support staff around me and team to get me back up to 100 per cent.
“I think that’s part of anything, things you’re not sure of. You get emotions like that and it’s about recognizing those emotions and making them into something constructive.”
Never, she says, did she think about giving up on her sport. Not a chance.
“I put everything into my rehab the last two years and I feel that it’s paid off well,” she said.
The women’s ski cross event is scheduled for Friday.
Canada’s Ashleigh McIvor, who will be doing colour commentary for the CBC in that event, is the defending gold medal champion in the first ever women’s Olympic ski cross event four years ago.
She can see the same championship potential in her former teammate Serwa.
“It’s so nice to see her have another opportunity to show the world what she’s made,” said McIvor last month. “She has more than enough ability to land on top of that podium.”