COCHRANE— Getting one step closer to realizing her Olympic dreams, 19-year-old Cochranite and alpine ski racer Kiara Alexander and her coach, Gavin Preziosi, were recently selected to receive the $10,000 Fuelling Athletes and Coaching Excellence (FACE) Program grant.
Each year, the Canadian Olympic Committee, the Canadian Paralympic Committee and the Coaching Association of Canada select up and coming athletes who are striving to reach their dreams of representing Canada on the world stage at the Olympic Games to be the recipient of the grant, courtesy of Petro Canada.
The athletes are selected on their potential to reach the games and picked Alexander for her ongoing success in the sport.
At the end of her last season, she won seven of eight races hosted in Whistler, BC, and this spring placed third in the women’s U.S. Alpine Championships.
Alexander got involved in racing when she was six years old completely on accident.
“My parents needed us to do a winter sport, because we were always busy in the wintertime, and they put us in this ski program not knowing that it was a race program when I was six,” she said. “I fell in love with is and I’ve been in it ever since.”
She said she feels well suited to the sport, as she loves the intense high speeds, and being in the great outdoors.
“Our family is very outdoorsy, so being in the mountains is a big part of it. I also love the part of it being an individual sport, while also being part of a team. I’ve always played team sports like soccer or volleyball, and I really like being part of a team,” she said. “I also love the speed of it, you know, just going fast, the mountains, fresh air.”
Ski racing is a very expensive sport, with many costs associated with it. Not only is the equipment quite expensive, but the travel costs and entry fees associated with it can also be pricey as well.
“My entire team, we all have part-time or full-time jobs to be able to support our season,” she said. “[The grant] definitely is going to up some more opportunities like racing in Europe. Travelling over there is going to be fairly expensive, so it will be good to at least have that support knowing that I can go compete over there and not have to worry as much about how much the trip is going to cost.”
Alpine Alberta, the organization that oversees the administration of ski racing in Alberta, applied on her behalf. Alexander was excited at the process but did not expect to win.
“Alberta Alpine actually applied for the two of us,” she said. “My coach called me and told me they applied, and I thought it would be really cool to get it, but I didn’t really think too much of it. He called me a little bit later and said ‘hey, did you check your email yet?’”
When Alexander checked her email, she was surprised to read the good news.
“I was a little shocked if I’m going to be honest. I was kind of like, ‘me?’” she said. “I felt like I was getting a little bit of recognition for my successes and stuff like that. It was kind of cool to see.”
Alexander said she was very grateful for the support from the program and feels like this win will get her one step closer to her Olympic dreams.
This season will be her last as a junior, and she plans to race in the World Junior Championships in Panorama, BC.
“That’s definitely the number one priority on my list, and the next stepping stone to the world cup and the national team,” she said. “I do feel pretty prepared. It’s going to be my first World Junior Championships even though I’ve qualified for the last three years. It’s going to be a really cool experience, and I’m excited to see how I stack up to all of the other juniors in the world."