Kyla Vanderzwet to Compete at The World University Games

The World University Games will take place in February, 2017, in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

2000 student-athletes from 55 countries are expected to attend, competing in 12 different winter sports. For me, the costs of training, equipment, and participation in skiing have always been self-funded and I’ll be paying my way to Kazakhstan.

If you would like to support me in this adventure, I will gratefully accept any donations here!

I began skiing when I was 18, which is relatively late compared to a lot of competitive skiers. Initially I loved it because of the awesome people I got to train with. As I progressed I appreciated the ongoing learning and challenge of the sport. After high school I started university and trained with the University of Guelph ski team, roller skiing around parking lots and skiing in farmers’ fields when there was enough snow. It wasn’t the most ideal training but I still loved it!

Eventually I switched schools and moved to Ottawa, where I completed my undergrad in Biology and a Master’s in Neuroscience. Living in Ottawa offered excellent training and competing opportunities, and I gained a lot of experience as an athlete with the Carleton Varsity team as well as the XC Ottawa club team. The coaches and athletes on these teams were always hugely supportive, motivating, and fun. During my last year in Ottawa I joined the Nakkertok racing program and learned a ton about proper training, racing, and ski technique from Nakkertok’s head coach, Kieran Jones, as well as the athletes on the team. Nakkertok has an excellent racing program and an incredible community of skiers and supporters. I’m really glad I got to be part of it for a year!

This past spring, I learned that I would be heading to London, ON, to start medical school. I was thrilled! I also thought that the time had come to trade my skis in for a stethoscope, since there isn’t much in the way of Nordic skiing in London. However, a few weeks later I also received an invitation to represent Canada at the World University Games in skiing, which was to be held in February in Kazakhstan. I felt elated if not incredulous – this wasn’t something I had expected at all! Yet competing internationally is a “dream goal” that I write down every year when it comes to setting the long-term objectives. When asked if I would attend, it wasn’t much of a question for me – I knew I had to seize the day!

So far training in London has been a great break from studying and I’ve seen a lot of the area while running and roller-skiing. The Varsity cross-country running team, led by Guy Schultz, has been kind enough to let me train with them and I even made it back to Ottawa for some group ski workouts. On a personal level I know that this adventure will be very challenging but also highly rewarding. However, I hope that it can also serve a bigger role in encouraging people to keep active and participate in the activities they love. I haven’t been studying medicine long, but so far it seems that exercise is good for just about anything health-related. There’s no better way to take your health into your own hands! For young women in particular, who statistically have a very low rate of participation in sport, I hope that you will be inspired to continue participating in whatever activity you love! I have never been the best at skiing, but with a huge stroke of luck (and a lot of hard work) my dream goal came to fruition.