Kim McKnight Pedersen – A full and happy mountain life 

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At the tender age of 17, Kim was invited to race in her first World Cup start. "It was in Rossland," she says. "Winter of '88 — a downhill and a super-G." She laughs again. "The sun came out mid-race in the downhill and Indian Flats got baked. Those of us at the back of the pack were WAY back..." But the super-G was a lot better, she adds, and she finished a respectable 27th.

Which normally would have been good enough for a spot on the National Team. "But they decided to change the criteria at the last minute that year," she says. And sighs. No national team for Kim.

"When you're young and idealistic," she continues, "and you're focused on a goal like World Cup ski racing, you believe and trust that everyone around you wants you to succeed." She pauses. Sighs again. "So when you learn that's not the case, you become an instant adult. Why? Because you learn not to trust the system, not to trust the people who are supposed to be looking out for you. Sadly, you realize that you're on your own..."

Kim is a fighter. Always has been. Always will. So there was no way she was going to give up on her ski racing dreams. At least not yet. "I just wanted a chance to race in the big leagues," she explains. "World Cup, Europa Cup, it didn't matter, I wanted to be able to test myself, challenge the next level." So she decided to race another year. But Alpine Canada moved the goal posts yet again. And that was enough for Kim.

"I remember thinking: 'Better for me to quit ski racing now before I lose my love for skiing completely.'" She says it with a straight face, you know, but the pain of that long ago decision still reverberates today. After all, she was only 18 when she 'retired' from the sport. "At that age," she confides, "you feel like you've put your whole life into it. So yeah, it's a pretty devastating moment. You don't even know if there's much of a life left for you to live anymore."

It wasn't easy. It wasn't fun, But she eventually got over her disappointment. Decided to become a physician like her doctor parents. "So I did the college thing," she says. "Graduated from the University of Calgary in human mechanics."

She laughs. "But by the time I finished my degree I realized how much I missed skiing... So I decided to move to Whistler. Figured I'd coach ski racing for a season or two before getting on with my adult life."

That was 1995. "I guess I never left," she says. And laughs some more. "Skiing is my life now. Whistler is my home."


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