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Catching up with 2010 Winter Olympics ski-cross Gold Medallist Ashleigh McIvor and family -
Published on: February 1, 2018
Stephanie Ip, Vancouver Sun
For the original piece click here:
As Canada’s top athletes head overseas for the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea, B.C.’s own Ashleigh McIvor hopes they’ll look beyond the immediacy of the Games and think about how they’ll reflect on this unique experience in the future.
“The biggest thing is to consider how you’d want to feel at this stage of your life looking back on it,” she said, referencing her own journey since winning gold in the inaugural women’s ski-cross competition at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
“If you sort of remove yourself from the stress and the overbearing pressure that you feel naturally in the biggest sporting event of your life and consider how you might wish you’d felt, somewhere down the road — that’s how you channel all of those nerves and energy into something positive and make the most of it.”
McIvor, 34, spoke with Postmedia News recently about how life has changed since becoming a gold medallist and how she’s passing on the Olympic legacy to her two-year-old son Oakes with husband Jay DeMerit, the former Vancouver Whitecaps FC captain.
The ski-cross champ looks back fondly on her “magical” experience during the 2010 Olympics, adding that from the time she crossed the finish line on Feb. 23 through the end of the closing ceremony, “time had a way of speeding up or completely disintegrating.”
“It was all a blur to me,” she said. “It’s all I’ve thought about for years and I haven’t gotten over it yet.”
While the Whistler-born athlete is often asked about what it’s like to cross the finish line, she remembers the start line more clearly.
“That’s the moment that is most significant in my memory,” she said. “It was just one of the most powerful experiences of my life. I remember thinking, ‘This is it. This is what all this training and preparation has been for.’ I didn’t just mean the four years leading up to the Olympics, it was like a lifetime of indirectly preparing for it, even though I didn’t even know it would be an organized sport — let alone an Olympic sport — as a kid.
“I had butterflies to my outer extremities and I just told myself, ‘This is good. This is your body doing what it’s supposed to do.’ ”
DeMerit remembers that gold-medal race, too. The soccer ambassador was in Miami for a photo shoot during the 2010 Olympics and recalls watching McIvor’s race on his hotel-room TV.
“I didn’t even know Ashleigh at the time,” he said of his future wife. “But I remember watching her race. I was thinking, ‘Wow. Ski cross is pretty cool.’ ”
A few months later, DeMerit was signed by the Whitecaps FC and in early 2011 he arrived in Vancouver. The couple first met on the one-year anniversary of the Vancouver Games. They were married in 2013 and welcomed son Oakes Michael DeMerit in 2015. The family now splits time between Whistler and Vancouver.
As a pro athlete himself, the Olympics has always been on DeMerit’s radar, but after meeting McIvor, the experience was “enhanced.”
“To be surrounded by people of that magnitude, of that drive, of that work ethic is always something, in my opinion, that’s been enticing and, of course, in Ashleigh, I was very much drawn to that,” he said.
On the day the McIvor-DeMerit clan met with Postmedia, Oakes is wearing a grey-knit sweater with CANADA emblazoned on the back and a moose on the front. The child has a shock of white-blond hair and bright blue eyes; he oscillates between bursts of energy and a very sudden, serious shyness.
It’s no surprise that having a gold-medal mom and an MLS-captain dad means inheriting a natural inclination for sports. The boy recently turned two and already has a fondness for, of course, soccer and skiing. The 2018 Winter Olympics will be his first time taking in the event.
“He’s just getting to the point where he understands it. I was watching footage from Idre Fjall of the World Cup Ski Cross and he can tell it’s women racing so he goes, ‘Mama! Mama!,’ and thinks everyone who’s racing ski cross is me,” McIvor said, with a smile.
“It’s a pretty neat opportunity to be exposed to it at such a young age … so it’s nice to be able to share that as a family and I think Oakes sort of embodies the sense of purpose I got from competing as an athlete.”
But the legacy reaches far beyond her own experience in competition or what she’s shared with her husband and son; McIvor also praised her former ski-cross team and the Canadian men and women headed to Pyeongchang.
“We talk about it galvanizing the nation and it just had such a significant impact,” said McIvor of what the Olympics mean for an athlete and the country they represent. “It’s incredible to be a part of it and sometimes I have to remind myself that I am a significant part of that. I was just out there doing what I did for fun and it happened to work out really well — I have to remind myself that it’s actually a lot bigger than that.”
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Partway through my pregnancy, I found myself completely sick of salad.
I felt like eating enough nutrients to grow a healthy baby had become as time consuming as a full time job, and with the delicate dance around nausea, I just couldn't chew any more kale or spinach up -- no matter how much fruit or yummy, sugary dressings I tried to disguise it with.
That night, my incredibly considerate and thoughtful hubby came home with a Nutribullet! I credit that blender for our baby's good health. I was able to get so many more vegetables into me by mixing them with a bit of fruit juice and frozen berries, and I could add chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and all sorts of other goodness to it if so inclined. Once I had this baby -- his name is Oakes -- I realized that I needed to keep this healthy diet going to make super-healthy breastmilk, and I wonder now: why would I stop eating so well once it's just me who benefits?
Being a Gastown resident (when we aren't in Whistler) I've also always loved my regular Juice Truck fix, but I've always wondered what's actually healthier: juicing or blending? To me, It seemed counterintuitive to remove all of the fibrous portions of the vegetables and fruit, when I've always thought it to be important that I'm getting enough fibre. So I did some research.
As it turns out, there are two types of fibre, and juicing only removes the insoluble fibre. The soluble fibre goes straight into my mason jar. Depending on what your goals are, there are advantages to both juicing and blending.
Although our bodies don't break it down or digest it, insoluble fibre is important for our digestive systems. It acts like a sponge, absorbing fluids to keep things moving along regularly, and it also picks bits of bad cholesterol up to carry them right back out. Insoluble fibre makes it harder for nutrients to be absorbed and utilized, which puts a check in the juicing column, as long as your juice is mostly from vegetables. If you like to throw a whole bunch of fruit into your concoction, you will be better off to keep that insoluble fibre around, so it can prevent some of that sugar from being absorbed -- or at least slow the release of it down to keep blood-sugar levels from spiking. The general rule of thumb for juicing is 80% vegetables, 20% fruit -- a rule I try to live by when it comes to feeding my baby. Most people think fruit is a healthy snack, but as my public-health-nurse-mother has always said, you really need to focus on getting the veggies in first. Health Canada actually changed the name of one of the four food groups on Canada's Food Guide from 'Fruit & Vegetables' to 'Vegetables & Fruit' years ago to emphasize the importance of making nutrient-rich vegetables your priority. Fruit is great, it's just high in sugar.
I often hear of people going on a juicing diet to try to lose weight. Have you ever noticed that drinking a juice doesn't really make you feel full for very long? I feel fuller for longer if I drink a smoothie. That's the thing about fibre -- it makes you feel full for longer, and then you are less likely to snack on less-than-optimal things. The truth is, I just really enjoy drinking fresh vegetable juice with a hint of fruitiness, so we now have a fancy new Breville Centrifugal Juicer to cover all of the bases!
We literally had to read 'Juicing for Dummies' once we got this beautiful piece of machinery. It told us to remove skins and peels that we wouldn't normally eat, like citrus fruit peels as well as the gnarly stuff at the root of the beets. It was a family affair in our little cabin north of Whistler, as we experimented with our new mode of nutrient delivery. We tried beets, carrots, ginger, a whole lot of kale, apples, and we squeezed lemon juice on top. The end result? A delicious creation delivering: Iron, Magnesium, Calcium, Phosphorus, Thiamin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Protein, Riboflavin, Copper, and a very good amount of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Folate, Potassium and Manganese. Say that 5 times, fast. ;)
As newbies, we'd love some juicing tips, either in the comments below or on social media!
Shifting Gears into 2017
It's been more than a year since I became a Mama.
There are so many things I thought I would never say or do (or buy) as a parent, that I now say or do daily. It's the most amazing thing ever, having created more to love in this beautiful world. I now have a far greater appreciation for my own parents, and I understand that all of the sacrifices -- and what I used to perceive as hard work -- actually don't feel like sacrifices or work at all, when the one thing that makes you happiest is seeing your little boy or girl thrive.
So I think I will write a blog post about things I totally get now, as a parent, and I'd like to take this opportunity to apologize for any weird looks I gave you trailblazers in our circle of friends for having said, done, or bought any of these things. This will include my own list of must-haves for new parents, even though I (stupidly) didn't read any of these lists before Oakes was born.
I will also share lessons or strategies I'm learning along the way and ideas for effectively managing time to achieve a healthy work/life balance. I hear so many people say "cherish these days -- it all goes by so quickly" or "ahhh, I wish my teenagers could be babies again, just for a day", and I don't want to miss a moment of Oakes' babyhood. People often ask me what I'm up to and I don't really have an elevator pitch, so I just say "Momming". But really, I'm still very busy with speaking engagements & promotional work, modelling, providing colour commentary for CBC's coverage of the World Cup Skicross Tour, managing our five rental properties (+ one of my Mom's and one of Jay's Mom's), and hosting guests for Whistler Blackcomb's 'Ski with an Olympian' program -- to name a few of the regular business activities under my company, Ashleigh McIvor Endeavours, on top of our major endeavour: developing the Rise & Shine Retreat just north of Whistler. So, needless to say, I've had to get creative to fit it all in!
I would imagine that most of you started following me because of your interest in my ski career, so my intention is that this will serve as a heads up that I'm shifting gears. While you will still see glimpses into my adventures on mountains and in the woods through my social media channels, I'm going to make this space a place for a real blog. Going forward, my focus will be on parenting, health & wellness, and managing busy lifestyles.
With that, I would like to openly declare my New Year's Resolutions. (Don't you find you are more likely to stick to your word that your mere thoughts?) So here they are, along with some tips for implementing them:
1) I resolve to rely on well-designed systems for a more efficient, effective business life.
-> write to-do lists out on paper daily, so that you can stop running through them in your head, and you can cross completed tasks right out (ideally with a big, huge Sharpie!)
-> bring your computer with you everywhere you go, so you can work wherever and whenever your baby falls asleep
-> allocate certain timeframes for focused work, and cease ‘office hours’ outside of those timeframes
-> pay people to do things that you can pay people to do, with money you'll save on childcare by being more available to your child or money you'll earn using your time more effectively (hire a cleaner, a handyperson, get things delivered, etc...)
2) I resolve to cook and prepare food at home more
-> get organized with a weekly grocery list and meal plans, so that you don't give into the urge to eat out each evening
-> buy a nice set of Tupperware containers so you can prepare extra and freeze it for another day
-> order groceries online to complement resolution #1! (I like spud.ca)
-> follow some foodies like @hookedonplants or @todieforFF on instagram or twitter (PLEASE let me know if you know of any other good foodies!)
3) I resolve to remember that good health is to be cherished above all else.
-> our friends have this saying... "shit could be worse"... remember that no matter how difficult something may seem, we have it pretty good here, living this lifestyle
-> since Oakes was born, I just keep thinking that nothing else really, actually matters, other than good health
4) I resolve to be more present/mindful, and to tune the noise out for my own mental health.
-> have you ever noticed how rosy things look once they are in the past? (that festival you went to 5 years ago, or the vacation you were on last winter) -- feel that rosiness NOW.
--> think about how you will look back on today in the future, and appreciate what you have
-> spend more time focusing on what you've accomplished, and how excited you would have been to know that you would have accomplished those things, had someone told you that you would 5 years ago.
-> take time to silence your thoughts, and to eliminate unnecessary worry or stress.
5) I resolve to put as much time and energy (and passion and devotion) into my marriage as I do parenting
-> don’t rely on a schedule for intimacy, but do create a regular (weekly?) deadline as a fallback plan if that schedule is not naturally taking shape
-> honour your commitment to graciously stick to your predetermined role without allowing any resentment to surface in those brief moments where your partner’s role seems more appealing. (‘cause the grass is always greener on the other side)
-> do what needs to be done to ensure that you are both getting enough sleep, alone time, and fun in (which brings me right back to resolution #1!)
Happy New Year, fans, friends and followers! ~with LOVE, Ashleigh
Born November 29, 2015
Weighing just the right amount.
We are in love.
Fitness Tips with a New Twist
Fitness Tips can be found here: Club 16 Fitness Tips
2015 Pemby Fest Contest
Back by popular demand, it's time to launch our 2015 contest to win the music festival experience of a lifetime!
The Pemberton Music Festival is going to be off the charts again this year, with headliners including Kendrick Lamar,The Black Keys, Hozier & Tiesto and some of my favorites: Weezer, Flux Pavilion and Zeds Dead. The line up, once again, is so deep that any of the artists could be headliners at most other shows, and it's all happening right in our own back yard. Reggie Watts will be one of many incredibly funny dudes performing on the comedy stage.
If you missed the #PembyFest last year, you probably had a friend or two ranting and raving about how earth-shattering it was, so here's your chance to get in on the action!
If you are not convinced yet, just watch this video:
This year, Jay and I -- along with several really cool friends like NHLers Paul Bissonnette & Scottie Upshall, Pro Skiers & crazy wingsuit guys including Ian McIntosh, Olympians like Julia Murray and more -- are doing a contest which will grant the winner + guest full VIP access to the Pemberton Music Festival, and an invite to join us on the adventure of a lifetime in the mountains of Pemberton, BC.
Enjoy the festival performances from our private cabana on a platform high above the VIP and Super VIP areas, between the two main stages. Food is provided by the Bearfoot Bistro, and drinks are courtesy of Molson Canadian, Somersby, Jack Daniels and many more.
HERE'S HOW TO ENTER:
ON YOUR OWN PAGE OR BLOG:
Enter as many times in as many ways as you'd like to!
I hope it's you who wins. ;)
Winner will be drawn on July 14th, so you'd better pack your bags, just in case.