AST Athlete Journal: Katrina van Soest

Hello Ski Racers from EuroLand! I hope your keeping healthy and enjoying the great Canadian outdoors during this odd winter!

Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Katrina van Soest. I grew up in Vernon BC and started skiing with the Vernon Ski Club. Unfortunately, the club didn’t have a FIS Program so I joined the Vancouver FIS Ski Team for my first year of FIS. There were three other girls on the team that were tech focused but I was and will forever be more interested in speed skiing. A few friends suggested I approach Banff Alpine Racers (BAR) to find what I was looking for, so I did for my second year. My skiing would not be where it is today without the support I had (and still have) from BAR. I skied with BAR for four years and I can honestly say they are an amazing crew of people from teammates to coaching staff to some of the coolest parents anywhere. In my sixth year FIS I made the Alberta Ski Team. But due to COVID-19 I knew there wasn’t going to be many chances for racing in Canada this winter so I sought out other options. Which is when I was introduced to the International Ski Racing Academy.I was super fortunate to be accepted to be a part of both the Alberta Ski Team and International Ski Racing Academy (ISRA).

(Photo credit to John Everly. Pictured Duane Baird BAR FIS coach 2019 LakeLouise WorldCup)

This winter has and continues to be a wild ride from the start to now (almost finished). Since making the move to join ISRA in Italy I’ve enjoyed some amazing opportunities. The most important was starting in my first Europa Cup races and a close second is living in the Italian Dolomites! Racing in Europe is something special and I now know every competitive ski racer needs to do it at some point in their FIS careers. My first few races were daunting to say the least. I didn’t know anyone and I was on a new team with new teammates and new coaches. Fortunately, these girls and the coaches turned out awesome.  I’m learning so much and having fun with all of them! I’ve skied at many new resorts in new countries and seen some amazing sunrises. The mountains here are very different from the Rockies. They are HUGE from valley bottoms to peaks they’re the tallest mountains I’ve ever seen.

(Passo San Pellegrino)

This winter has brought many new experiences into my life. There were many families who couldn’t be together for the holidays and unfortunately mine was one of them. I didn’t have two weeks to spare around Christmas time so I had to stay in Europe away from my family. While this was really hard and a bit emotional I was able to “open presents” and join my family for breakfast on Christmas Day thanks to FaceTime. Luckily, I had some of my new found teammates/roommates (Candace Crawford, Eliza Grigg, and Alice Robinson) who also couldn’t go home. In total there were 4 of us who had to stay in Soraga for Christmas. We had our CommonWealth Christmas a day early as Candace and Alice had to leave for a World Cup race.

(San Pellegrino Europa Cup start gate, pictured  Johanna Tikkanen ISRA coach)

Another new thing are Europa Cups. Wow they’re a lot more intimidating than any other race competition I’ve experienced. There are many World Cup athletes racing in them which adds to the intimidation factor. A few weeks ago I got to race the San Pellegrino World Cup track. It was the same piste for the Europa Cup Super G races and it was thrilling! A few mistakes here and there but overall I’m getting close to a top 30 and finally getting some Europa Cup points. I’m hungry for more and can’t wait for Europa Cup finals in Saalbach, Austria.

(Livigno Italy GS Europa cup photo credit to thelagomers)

This winter has been an eye opener into ski racing, I can’t wait for more to come. The ski culture and excitement in Europe is never ending. I want to give a huge shout-out to my personal sponsors mom and dad (Christina and Garry van Soest) and to all my hometown ski racing fans. If it wasn’t for them it would be very hard to keep doing this wonderful sport! I would also like to thank SportingLife and Sync Performance for supporting the Alberta Ski Team!