Favourite Whistler Athlete (Overall)
Ashleigh McIvor has won everything there is to win in the sport of ski cross — World Cups, pro events, the world championships and, with Canada cheering her on, the debut of her sport at the 2010 Olympics. She announced her retirement from racing back in November to focus on other opportunities in skiing — and to preserve her left knee after undergoing a third major surgery in Jan. 2011 after landing flat during training at X Games.
While we'll miss all the hardware she brought home as a professional racer, McIvor is not really going anywhere. She's only 29 years old after all, and she's still an avid skier, mountain biker, surfer, etc. who will be awesome at all those things for years to come.
"I was so excited," she said of hearing that she had won this Best of Whistler category once again. "(Fiance) Jay (DeMerit) was making fun of me for how excited I was... Obviously Whistler is the one place in the world that is most important to me, and to know I have the respect of other members of the community is just amazing. Almost more amazing than any medal I've received."
McIvor's post-racer career is going strong. She worked with CBC to broadcast the ski cross World Cup, and could be in front of the camera at other events leading up to the 2014 Olympics as well. She's also getting lots of work filming, and has been approached to be in a big-mountain feature film as well — something she always wanted to do. "Honestly, that's a big part of why I got into ski cross in the first place, to make a name for myself so I could do that sort of thing," she said.
"It's really nice to be at home skiing powder with my friends."
Second on the list for Favourite Whistler Athlete was none other than Sarah Burke, who was tragically lost to us after a halfpipe crash in Utah last January.
Burke was a true trailblazer in skiing and in women's sports.
She pushed for the inclusion of women in freeski events and competed against men when she had to — which was often during her early years. As a competitor, she pushed her sport further and faster than anyone expected, driving the progression while maintaining her status as the athlete to beat in every event. She also happily created her own competition, coaching at Momentum ski camps in Whistler — which she first attended as a camper at age 14 — and inspiring other girls to get involved. When the sport of ski halfpipe was added to the Olympic Games, she was given a lot of the credit, both for the way she represented the sport and for the way she increased women's participation enough to make it an easy decision for Olympic organizers.