Three-sport Olympian Georgia Simmerling hopes valued teammate will be remembered


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If newly retired Georgia Simmerling is best known as the first Canadian to compete in three different sports at three different Olympic Games, she will live happily with this impressive legacy.

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“I came to understand that it’s a pretty remarkable achievement, to have accomplished what I did, to go to three different Olympics in three different sports,” she said on Monday, a week after taking to Instagram to officially announce her long-awaited retirement.

But there is so much more to the sporting journey that has set her apart. She was a 21-year-old alpine skier who competed in front of her friends, family and the rest of the country in her hometown at the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver; and a 32-year-old veteran track cyclist at the Tokyo Olympics, where there were no fans at all due to the COVID-19 pandemic that delayed the Games by a year. In the meantime, Simmerling competed in Sochi 2014 as a ski cross racer and won a bronze medal in the track cycling team pursuit at Rio 2016, the feat that completed her groundbreaking Olympic hat trick.

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With nine ski cross World Cup medals, five silver and four bronze, she was indeed an accomplished finish. But when asked how she would like to be remembered as an athlete, Simmerling didn’t focus on the gear or her ability to move from sport to sport to the highest. level possible.

“I hope I remember my character; leave the sport better than when I entered it. I hope I have inspired the next generation. I hope I have given back to the next generation and to the communities around me across the country. I hope I was competitive and uplifting and supported my teammates.

“I know I had a pretty competitive motivation in me as an athlete and I hope I was able to inspire them and the next generation. No matter what it is, no matter what obstacle is in front of you, no matter what injury you have, you can always come back and I was a firm believer in it as an athlete and I really hope I showed that on the scene I was at. “

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It would have been practically impossible to miss. She broke both legs and tore three ligaments in her left knee in a terrible ski cross accident in January 2018, less than a month before she defied medals at the Olympic Games in PyeongChang.

She was on crutches for weeks, and while that may have been enough to end a career, Simmerling instead retired from ski cross in May of that year to return to track cycling, intending to end his competitive sports career at the Tokyo Games.

In 2011, she tore both knees and suffered a concussion in a downhill skiing accident, which prompted her to switch to ski cross.

In 2012, she broke vertebrae in her neck and back in a ski cross fall, then damaged her wrist in another mishap, an injury that required the insertion of plates and screw. In addition, she bit 75% of her tongue twice in accidents.

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“It’s a bit awful, I guess, but the tongues heal quickly and I was eating mashed potatoes the next day,” she said with a laugh.

With his competitive athletic career in rear view, his next few days will now be filled with an unspecified foray into business. Simmerling said she would reveal her plans next Monday, but dropped a few clues.

“I’m passionate about sport, I’m passionate about women’s sport, about the growth of women’s sport in this country, and I can’t wait to get to work. “

Her new home port will be Paris, where she will live with her fiancée Stéphanie Labbé. Ultimately. After managing a long-distance relationship for five years, the two moved in together. Labbé, 34, who was the goalkeeper for Canada’s gold medalist soccer team at the Tokyo Olympics, recently signed a two-year contract with the Paris Saint-Germain women’s team.

“I am very happy to be with Steph, to support her not from afar but in person,” said Simmerling. “I think we’re very happy that we’re not separated for four, five, six months at a time throughout the year.

“As athletes we know how to deal with long distance relationships so we were able to handle it well, I would say. But of course it comes with difficulties, there is no doubt about it, and we are just fed up with it. We are ready to be together and to live together and not to live in a suitcase. “

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Twitter.com/sportsdanbarnes

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Naomi C. Amerson