Supporting Canadian Athletes

Alexa Loo

As the reigning North American Slalom Champion and the first woman in Canada to compete at the Olympics in the parallel giant slalom, Alexa has been a key player in promoting the sport of snowboarding.

First elected to the AthletesCAN board in 2002 and now sitting on the board as a representative of the Canadian Olympic Committee’s (COC) Athletes Council, Alexa’s commitment to sport as an athlete representative (rep) began in 2001 when she realized that she needed to become a stronger voice for snowboarding. In 2006 Alexa was elected to the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) Athlete’s Council and has acted as a Seeing Eye guide for Lilo Ljubisic since 2004. Alexa is now training for her second Olympics, the 2010 Vancouver Games, as a member of Canada’s Snowboard team.

Alexa was born in Vancouver, BC, and grew up in Richmond, BC, as the oldest of three siblings. She was first introduced to sport at the age of two years when her parents took her skiing (with plastic skis!) every weekend at a cabin in Mt. Baker, Washington. When asked if there was an emphasis on sport in her family, her response is “absolutely!” “It was my parent’s passion for skiing that led to their meeting and falling in love during pre-ski exercises at the University of British Columbia”, she says.

As a child, Alexa participated in various activities such as skating, ballet, swimming, skiing, and track and field. “I was small for my age “, Alexa explains, “my parents would come and watch me lose all my races!”

A bit of a late bloomer, Alexa did not take up snowboarding until she was 15 years old and did not start competing until the age of 25; after she had graduated from the University of British Columbia with a bachelor of commerce and an accounting degree. With her sights set on the Olympics, Alexa quit her job as an accountant with KPMG Accounting Services in order to focus on training for the Olympic team. Since then, the accountant turned world-class snowboarder has done everything in her power to develop her ability to rocket down the slopes.

Despite blowing out both knees, one year after the other, and undergoing reconstructive surgeries, Alexa persevered until she was training full time in Colorado. Her life was focused on travelling to races and training with a number of private teams. “For years it was quite a struggle trying to make enough money, find a coach, and organize travel to Europe, the US, and Canada”, she says, “sometimes we even had to send in our own entry forms for our World Cup events!”

Unfortunately, she did not qualify for the 1998 Olympics. “Part of the reason was my inexperience in the political arena of sport, I did not understand what the criteria was for qualifying for the Olympics”, Alexa says. Despite the set back, her passion for sport and strength of will propelled her to train harder and she was later named to the national team. Yet disappointment followed again when she missed out on qualifying for the 2002 Olympics by 1/10th of a second at a World Cup.

This is when Alexa became an athlete rep and discovered that the skiers had a different formula for World Cup placing. “I would have placed 16th instead of 17th at that World Cup Olympic qualifier and subsequently made the Olympic team had I understood the system better”, she explains, “this is when I realized I needed to become a stronger voice, and my role as an athlete rep provided me with the perfect opportunity”.

With renewed focus, a greater understanding of the sport system and with even more hard work and determination, Alexa realized her dream to represent Canada at the 2006 Olympic Games. “I was well trained and I was going for broke”, she reflects. “Unfortunately, I made a mistake on my second qualifying run and looped out of my course, finishing a disappointing 20th place”.

Alexa’s first foray into athlete leadership came when she was named the athlete rep for snowboarding in 2001; and then attended her first AthletesCAN Forum in Toronto later that year. “I didn’t really know what to expect”, reflects Alexa, “it made me realize that snowboard was behind some sports but ahead of others and it was interesting to see how we stood compared to others”. Alexa was elected to the AthletesCAN Board of Directors in 2002 where she acted as treasurer until 2004, and now sits on the AthletesCAN Board as a representative of the COC Athletes Council.

Alexa stepped down as the athlete rep for snowboarding in 2006 when she started taking on more responsibility on the COC Athlete’s Council as a newly elected member of the executive committee. “I felt that it was time to groom another athlete for the position, however, I still remain involved in other areas”.

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