2012Oct 10

SPAD Student-Athlete Profile: Crystal Lee

By SPAD Blogger Brianne Pankoff

The SPAD Frosh Class of 2012 was lucky enough to include Crystal Lee, a former member of the Canadian National Aerial Skiing Team. I sat down with Crystal as she was able to share with us her experience of competing at the highest level of sport, and how, as an elite athlete, she ended up finding her way to SPAD.

Q: Tell us a little about your sport and your background in it.

A: I was on the National Team for Aerial Skiing. It is an Olympic sport, where the athletes launch themselves off 4 meter high jumps, do a couple or a few flips with some twists, and come in for a nice landing (hopefully). In 2010 I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to forerun at the Vancouver Olympics. My final year competing (2010/2011 season) I competed on my first full World Cup Circuit, making finals at all but one competition and going to places like Moscow, Russia, and Minsk, Belarus. I also qualified to compete at the World Championships in Park City, Utah the same season and finished 10th.

Q: How did you first get into aerial skiing? What made you keep going?

A: There was a recruitment program, funded by Own the Podium, finding acrobatic athletes to train in the sport aerials. With my background in competitive gymnastics, power tumbling and, at the time, trampoline, my coach for trampoline told me that this sport would be a potential good match. Originally, I dismissed the opportunity because I didn’t know how to ski. However, as curiosity got the best of me, I responded a week later and everything went from there. They sent me to Whistler to teach me to ski and by my second season ever on snow I was doing double flips. The moment that I got hooked on the sport was the first time I flipped on skis into water the summer of 2006. After that, the desire to keep testing my limits and seeing how far I could go fueled my drive.

Q: What was the best moment of your career?

A: It’s hard to pick just one. The experience as a whole I wouldn’t trade for the world. It would be a toss up between forerunning at the Vancouver Olympics and finishing 10th at the World Championships in Park City, Utah. The atmosphere in Vancouver was incredible, while the feeling of stomping my jumps in such a big competition and under stress in Park City is indescribable.

Q: You skied for several years before deciding to come to Laurentian, what did you learn from your time travelling and competing?

A: First thing I learned is to consider every opportunity no matter how far fetched. I can honestly say that a month before I got into aerials that I would have NEVER seen myself attempting the sport let alone being on the national team. I learned a lot about myself as a person from the experience as a whole. It’s an extreme sport that put me in extreme situations that I would never have gotten to experience otherwise.

Q: What made you want to go back to school, and more specifically come to SPAD?

A: I always knew I would go back to school at some point; it was just a matter of when. I was actually enrolled to start school for Kinesiology before I decided to join the aerial circus. As for SPAD, it wasn’t something I planned, more stumbled upon. I was looking around at the schools close to home and checking out their business programs. While looking into Laurentian’s Business program based out of Georgian College, I found out about SPAD by Christopher Zapalski. I was interested when he outlined the program to me, and I was sold after meeting with Ann, the Director of SPAD.

Q: How do you think being an athlete will help you in your future career as a sports administrator?

A: I learned a lot about work ethic as an athlete. You only get what you put in. Not to mention, while I was an athlete I was able to start building my network, which is extremely important in the business industry.

Thanks for your time Crystal and we wish you the best of luck as you transition from an athlete to a coach as well as your sports administration career!

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