From the ages of 5 to 15, she worked hard at perfecting her arabesques, pirouettes and, yes, hair buns, she says with a laugh.
But these days, Sarah is a skeleton racer on the Canadian national team. She placed bronze last year in the World Championships.
And in November 2013, she qualified to become one of Canada’s medal hopefuls at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
Born and raised in Calgary, 26-year-old Sarah says she owes much of her athletic success to her parents, who insisted that their daughters try a variety of sports, starting from a very young age.
“I’m lucky. I grew up in a really active family. My mom and dad ran marathons, biked, skied,” Sarah says.
“And they used to say to us, ‘You can choose to do whatever you want, but it has to be active.”
And how. Dubbed “Rocket Reid” by her friends and fans, she has tried it all. She was on her high school’s track team as well as various soccer teams. She snowboarded as a teen, and she still snowboards when she’s not in training. In addition to ballet, she studied jazz dancing and merengue. (These days, she stays in shape for skeleton by doing mixed martial arts training!)
After a brief go at bobsleigh, she “stumbled into the sport of skeleton,” she says. Since then, she has competed all over the world — Austria, Germany, Italy, Japan, Switzerland, the U.S., and, of course, Canada.
Every step of the way, she learned physical literacy skills that she still uses today. Her dance training, especially the decade of ballet, taught her “balance and body awareness, learning about my body and where it is in space,” she says.
“That’s a big deal when you’re doing skeleton. You have to know where your body is at all times on that track.”
Ballet also taught her how to focus on the task at hand. “It’s such a strict sport. It taught me a lot about discipline and committing to a goal, and how to be my best.”
Sarah radiates self-confidence as she speaks, and she credits much of that to her multi-sport background.
“You learn confidence,” she says.
“But you also learn to recover. When things go wrong, I have the ability to pick myself up and move on. I have the ability to get over things. You have your little boo-hoo for a couple of hours, but then you realize that life goes on.”
She nods her head toward the rest of her team, and points out that she’s only one of many Canadians who will compete for a spot on the podium in February.
“Teamwork is huge. You learn how to be a team player in every aspect of your life,” she says.
“We may compete as individuals, but we attack it as a team. We want to see all of Canada on the podium.”
Image © Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton