When Alana Ramsay began skiing at six years old, she never thought there would be a day that she would hang up the race skis with four Paralympic medals around her neck. The 27-year-old has announced her retirement ahead of the 2022-23 race season after seven years with the Canada Para-Alpine Ski Team.
“I’ve decided to retire because not many athletes can say that they’re leaving on top and leaving on their own decision,” Ramsay said. “I’m not leaving because of an injury; I’m leaving because I am ready to and feel like I’ve left everything on the hill and accomplished way more than I thought I was going to. It seemed like the right time.”
The Calgary, Alta. native had her breakout season in 2015-16, when she landed her first World Cup podium on the World Para-alpine circuit, earning her Alpine Canada’s Female Para-Athlete of the Year Award in her rookie season with the national team.
She showed her continued pedigree when she won a silver and three bronze medals at the 2017 Para Alpine World Championships before adding bronze medals in super-G and super-combined at her first Paralympic Games at Pyeongchang 2018.
In March 2017, Alana was crowned the Crystal Globe winner as the season champion in the downhill and slalom, and finished the 2018 season with a pair of IPC World Cup Finals gold medals. In 2019, Ramsay won giant slalom silver at the world championships.
“That 2016-17 crystal globes are the trophies that mean the most, and I hold the closest,” she said. “It showed hard work throughout the season, not just one lucky race.”
While the COVID-19 pandemic forced her and the Canadian Para-Alpine team away from international competition, her return and final season was among the best, as she skied to two bronze medals at the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Games.
“I hadn’t really thought about what it means to be a four-time Paralympic medalist until I was back home, looked at my highlights and the awards in my mom's house; it put in perspective how much I was able to accomplish.”
Stepping away from competing, Ramsay, who has cerebral palsy, which affects the right side of her body due to a stroke at birth, now looks towards coaching and bringing up the next generation of skiers going through similar experiences.
“I’ve loved helping the next generation, and I would love to work with the next wave of athletes looking to go to the Games because I know how exciting it can be,” she said. “Being a part of Team Canada has been one of the most rewarding things I've done with my life.” Outside of coaching, Ramsay wants to go to school to pursue psychology, as she looks to enhance the way injuries and mental health is looked at for high performance athletes.
While her competitive ski racing career comes to an end, it is a new dawn for the next stage in her life as she looks back on her accomplishments and ahead at new opportunities in the future.
“This was a big decision, it was a long time coming, and now that I’ve put it out there, it’s sad, but it's going to be good in the long run,” she said. “Wearing the maple leaf on my back has been one of the greatest things in the world”.
Alpine Canada and its partners, athletes, clubs and staff thank Alana for her passion and pursuit of excellence, her commitment and contributions to the sport, and wish her the very best in all her future endeavours. Her impact on our community and sport has been substantial.