Alana Ramsay was 14-years-old when she realized she wanted to make skiing her life.
“It’s just so much fun. It’s about being outdoors and the freedom to go fast,” she says. “And it’s about spending time with friends and family.”
And taking on the world, too. Ramsay, now 19, is one of 54 athletes on Team Canada as part of the national alpine team.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” she says. “I’m so excited to be part of it, and to be part of this Canadian spirit and pride we have right now.”
A para-alpine standing skier with cerebral palsy, she will compete in three events — Super G, Giant Slalom and Slalom — at the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games, March 7 to 16 in Sochi, Russia.
While it’s her first time at the Paralympics, she is no stranger to competition. She finished in the top 10 twice at her first para-alpine World Cup in Panorama, B.C. in January 2014.
And she won a silver medal at the Canada Winter Games in 2011.
“Sports have given me a sense of accomplishment but they have also give me a level of maturity,” she says.
“You can’t be a child when you go on these trips. You have to watch out for yourself. You can’t fool around. You’re representing your country.”
Born and raised in Calgary, Ramsay played hockey and soccer as a child. She began skiing seriously after attending an event for disabled teens. A ski coach was there, and he invited her to give skiing a try. She did and before long, she began to compete.
Nowadays, she trains at the University of Calgary, both by herself and with national trainers. While some training is funded through government programs, Ramsay supplements those funds by working as a cashier at a Real Canadian Superstore location in Calgary. Down the road, she dreams of becoming a veterinarian, with a focus on small animal care.
She credits her family (she has a twin sister, too), for their ongoing support.
“My family supports everything I do, no matter where I say I’m going or how long I’ll be gone,” she says with a laugh. “They just tell me I’ll always be able to do it.”
That sentiment is echoed by one of Ramsay’s dearest friends, Megan Flamand.
“I won’t be in Sochi, but I’ll be watching online, cheering for her,” says Flamand. “Nothing gets in her way. If she wants something, she goes for it.”
Alana’s competition schedule
Super G, standing: March 10
Slalom, standing: March 14
Giant slalom, standing: March 16