VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – A Vancouver woman is the youngest female athlete to join a team of world-class skiers competing in Europe for the Freeride World Tour.
Olivia McNeil, who recently celebrated her 20th birthday, says it’s a dream come true to be competing alongside the athletes she has looked up to for years.
“It’s something that I love to see. And it definitely helped solidify for me that this is a place where I can ski and I’m not just looking up to these people. I can ski with them and put down runs that other people can look up to,” she tells NEWS 1130.
“It’s really big for me, it’s exciting. It’s still very new.”
The last-minute invitation to the team came as a surprise to McNeil after U.S. athlete Jacquelline Pollard suffered an injury and couldn’t compete.
“Not the email I expected to read mid-day on a Thursday, and certainly not an email I expected to get this winter. It was a little crazy,” McNeil says.
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Now McNeil is touring with the team in Europe, all while balancing a full-course load online through UBC.
McNeil hopes she can show other young women to follow their dreams.
“If you really, really love what you doing it’s worth putting 100 per cent of yourself into it and taking that step. I was definitely a little nervous as much as I really wanted to go,” McNeil says. “It’s worth taking the step and throwing yourself into it because if you do love it, it’s worth it all.”
McNeil is also the first Canadian woman to compete in the tour since 2016 and will be joining two other Canadian athletes – Tom Peifferon and Cooper Bathgate – on the tour that kicked off on Feb. 19.
-with files from Tarnjit Parmar