These days, Georgia Simmerling’s speed hovers just under a mile per minute when she flies across the finish line. Every split second matters. But that’s never been a problem for Georgia who’s built for speed. It second nature for this three-time Olympic champion who has spent more than a decade racing down ski hills and around cycling circuits.
If all goes well, Simmerling hopes to be on her way to competing in her fourth Olympics as a member of the Canadian Track Cycling Team in Tokyo this summer. Georgia has high hopes for a medal finish. And she’s likely to get there when you consider Georgia’s experience and unrelenting focus.
Having made her Olympic debut as a young 21-year-old, Georgia raced on Canada’s Alpine Ski Team in the Super Giant Slalom at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games. In 2011, her dreams changed were marred after a huge crash left her with a serious concussion and a torn MCL in both knees. So Georgia set her sights on Ski Cross, hoping to win gold in a relatively new Olympic sport at the time.
Cross Ski combines Alpine skiing with freestyle components, in a kind of thrilling roller-derby-on-snow contest. Cross skiers travel at high speed, navigating jumps and gates alongside three other competitors in four-person heats. Body contact is allowed and the added unpredictability of these races, hill conditions and mix of competitors makes this especially exciting for Georgia – a woman who never seems too shy away from a challenge.
Georgia raced her way to seven top-10 world finishes and a spot on Canada’s 2014 Winter Games team in Sochi, Russia. It’s an understatement to say Cross Ski is extremely dangerous given the full-on nail-biting moments, disastrous crashes and serious injuries seen in this sport. Georgia has had her share of all of three of these but when a broken wrist in 2015 sidelined her, she took to cycling to recover.
Turning this unexpected set back into an opportunity, Georgia dared to cross over into cycling and earned a spot on the Canadian Track Cycling team. The team took Bronze in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, Brazil. Determination and a love of speed and sport continue to underscore the new goals and records Georgia sets for herself. She is the first Canadian to be a three-time Olympian in three different sports in three different Olympics.
Georgia has yet to hit the brakes when it comes to pursuing excellence in sport. This is a match made in heaven, given that there are no breaks on track bikes and speed is queen when a team is able to strategically synchronize their timing over the course of a race.
I feel personally invested in Georgia’s success this summer for several reasons. We met when she was two weeks from competing in the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang. The ticket was booked, and she was in the semi-final heat of a Cross Ski race in Alberta. Icy conditions and jostling around one of the corners after a jump ended in a massive crash and an unused ticket. If the pandemic and political powers cooperate, I am counting on a podium run for Georgia this Summer in Tokyo. I plan to be on the edge of my couch cheering her on.