Alpine Club of Canada

Gazette, Spring 2018

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14 The Alpine Club of Canada Gazette spring 2018 Profile: Kylee Toth Ohler by lynn martel A former internationally ranked speed skater, Calgary's Kylee Toth Ohler discovered competi‑ tive ski mountaineering (skimo) in 2007, and she's been raising the bar for her own skills and accomplishments, and of the sport in Canada ever since. A wife and mother, she's been a Canadian National Ski Mountaineering Team member since 2009. She was 2016 North American female sprint champion, and Canadian female champion in 2015/16 and 2016/17. Last year she and teammate Michelle Katchur Roberts were the first female Canadian team to finish France's Pierra Menta stage race. Competing in Canada for the 2018 season, she's building toward the 2019 World Championships. When did you begin skiing? At 18 months. I was born in Vernon. B.C. and lived there until I was six. I learned to ski at Silver Star. What attracted you to skiing? When I was little my dad bought me French fries and hot chocolate. It's one of my favorite memories. Skiing was a family activity every second weekend and holidays. I liked going fast and was motivated to chase my older brother and his friends around the mountain. How did you discover skimo? I had just retired from the National Speed Skating Development Team and a friend, Steve Sellers, suggested I try this cool sport called skimo. I had never backcountry skied but loved skiing and being outside, so gave it a try. What was your first skimo competition? My first Skimo race was the 2007 Fernie Mountain Storm. I lost the course and didn't even finish. It was actually my second time on touring gear, so it was a bit of a catastrophe! I liked the challenge of the race and the movement and was determined to improve. Coming from being nationally and internationally ranked in speed skating, it was fun to explore a developing sport with a less competitive, more authentic outdoor culture. e skimo people were extremely friendly and very skilled mountaineers ‑ an impressive group to learn from. Does gear make a difference? When I started I was a university student so didn't have a lot of disposable income. I always bought the lightest, cheapest gear I could afford. Over time I realized how important light gear is to improving in the sport and prioritized and budgeted to get high end gear. My race gear now is as light as many cross‑country ski setups. What was your first European race? It was the 2008 Dachstein Extreme in Austria. I was super underprepared for the race in terms of ability and gear. It felt like going to a speed skating World Championships where the other athletes had team suits, team cars, coaches, sup‑ port staff, etc. ere were helicopters, it was televised, it felt very commercial, pro‑ fessional, polished, like a really developed sport. e competition was elite, and their race gear weighed half as much as mine. It was a great learning experience, very challenging, but I enjoyed being at a competition with no expectations or pressure. What are the most valuable things you've learned from competing? I did my first speed skating race at five, so have been competing pretty much my entire life. I've experienced some of my most gut‑wrenching disappointments and some of my biggest highlights at competitions. You learn how to get along with other people, how to win, how to lose, how to deal with disappointment, with anxiety, and things that aren't within your control, how to be focused, how to push yourself. What was your best comp? e Pierra Menta in France, 2017, with my teammate and friend, Michelle Katchur Roberts. It's a four‑day stage race where you cover 2500 to 3000 metres of terrain per day. My whole family came to watch including my mom and my Kylee Toth Ohler takes a practice uphill run in her Team Canada colours. photo: Kent toth | Kylee Toth Ohler pratique une montée d'entraînement dans les couleurs d'Équipe Canada. photo Kent toth

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