As we head into winter, we thought it would be a great opportunity to relive the excitement from the 2019/2020 World Cup Ski Cross tour from the perspective of two retired Canada Ski Cross racers, Ian Deans and Kelsey Serwa.
Ian retired from racing at the end of the 2017/2018 World Cup season. He currently lives in Seattle, WA with his beautiful wife Chelsea and their mini Australian shepherd Evy. When not focusing on his new career in Biotech Sales, you’ll find Ian at the gym tirelessly prepping his body and planning for his comeback (just in case), at the golf course convincing himself he’s better at golf than he really is, or in his yard hosting a critically acclaimed (by Evy & Kelsey) series on proper-improper lawn care advice.
Kelsey, the 2018 Olympic gold medalist and a current Elan ambassador, retired from racing at the end of the 2018/2019 season and currently has her head in the books as she finishes up her undergraduate degree in Human Kinetics at the University of British Columbia, Okanagan. Since retirement, Kelsey married her long-term partner Stan Rey and both have since jumped on the sourdough baking bandwagon along with 1000’s of other stay-at-homers during these Covid times.
Kels: “Hey Ian, how have you dealt with retirement and how do you find following the tour from home?”
Ian: “Yeah, retirement is strange. Many athletes view retirement from sport as a death sentence per say, and I’d have to admit that I was of that mindset for a brief period immediately after announcing my departure. Since then it has been a mixed bag, on one hand I miss the training, the competition and the highs and lows that come with competition. On the other hand, retirement has allowed me to expand my views and skills (professional and personal), allowing me to grow and further define who I am as a person. While also building successes outside of sport, one of the things I’ve focused on since retiring is keeping my connection with the ski cross world via community engagements and various media sources to ensure I never lose track of where I came from. It not only helps me feel like I’m still involved in sport, but by cheering on, watching, or even commentating races via Instagram live, I can more intimately celebrate the huge accomplishments of my former National Team and Elan teammates.”
Ian: “Kels, we had some fun co-hosting a few races this year, what were some of the highlights that stood out to you when thinking back on this past season?”
Kels: “One of my favourite moments from the early part of the season was co-commentating the Arosa World Cup with you Ian. I was trying to fit in some last minute studying between heats, and the race finished 30min before I had to drop in to a final exam. Kevin Drury won his second race of the season that day, and continued to dominate the season with another 2 victories and three 2nd place finishes."
"It’s always fun to celebrate the success of friends and Kevin makes it easy to root for him. He’s been an incredible teammate over the years and is really a stand up guy both on and off the race course. Ryan Regez of Switzerland also stepped it up this season and kept us on the edge of our seats. Typically strong in smaller technical courses, it was fun to watch Regez find his speed and success on some of the bigger tracks on tour this year. He earned a third in Val Thorens (FRA), the champion in Montafon (AUT), and another victory and third place finish in Idre (SWE) which helped him lock down second place in the overall world cup standings. Personally, I feel one of the excitements of ski cross is how quickly positions change as athletes jostle to be at the front of the pack.”
Kels: ”Ian, are there any crazy passes that stand out for you from the season?”
Ian: “One of the great features on YouTube is being able to replay, kind of like a DVR (do people even have these anymore?). I used that feature probably 100 times watching Brady Leman’s passing skills in Sunny Valley (RUS). Heat after heat, just picking people off on his way down. These weren’t easy passes, and this isn’t the first time he’s done this. Remember “The Pass” in Megeve finals a few years back? The guy is a clinician on two skis, dissecting the course and his competition. It just goes to show that when he’s on, there is no way to slow that freight train down. “
Ian: “Kels, we could be here all day talking about the successes of our Elan teammates (the overall sweep on the men’s side is just the start), but with the goods, come a few bads, how’s Dirt Squirrel #2 doing?“
Kels: “For the record, I’ve always seen my best-friend, teammate for life, non-sexual life partner, maid of honour, aka Britt Phelan as the true Dirt Squirrel. After a great 2nd place finish in Nakiska (CAN) followed by 3rd place finish in Idre (SWE), Britt had a season ending injury in Megeve (FRA). Dr. Mark Heard, who also operated on both my and Ian’s knees once or twice, performed a very successful surgery on February 14th and I’m happy to report that Britt is already kicking my butt on the bike. She’s the hardest worker I know and I have no doubt that she’ll be back in the start gate and on the podium in no time.”
Kelsey Serwa & Ian Deans