Larisa Yurkiw – Canadian Olympic Skier
Larisa Yurkiw is not only determined, but has an incredible level of perseverance. A 2014 Canadian Olympian in the Sochi Winter Games, Yurkiw is representing Canada in her first Olympic Games after a devastating knee injury kept her from competing for a spot on the Canadian 2010 Vancouver Olympic Team.
Born in Owen Sound, Ontario on March 30, 1988, Yurkiw started skiing when she was just two years old and racing when she was only four years old while in Vermont on a family ski trip. With two older brothers who were both ski enthusiasts, Yurkiw was around talented skiers at an early age at her home ski hill – the Georgian Peaks Ski Club.
From the age of 4 to 14, Yurkiw would take the Greyhound bus line from Owen Sound to Collingwood with her brothers, facilitating her training while also allowing her parents to still able be able to go to work. Ultimately, Yurkiw traded her Greyhound ticket for a plane ticket to Switzerland for her first chance to race for a spot on the Canadian National Team. From 2008 to 2009, Yurkiw was ranked top 30 seven times on the World Stage. In 2009, Yurkiw reached a personal best at Tarvisio, Italy when she placed 9th in the Super Combined Discipline.
In 2010, Yurkiw was on track earning a spot on the Canadian Olympic Team with a consistent and successful weekend of racing at the World Cup circuit opener in Lake Louise, Alberta with a 16th place and two 24th place finishes in her events. Unfortunately, a week later at a competition in France, Yurkiw tore her knee and had to put her Olympic dream on hold.
Tearing her ACL, MCL, patellar tendon and both menisci, Doctors told Yurkiw it would take “two years” until she felt “more like” herself. With three surgeries, an ACL transplant, a couple synthetic darts, numerous massages and chiropractic appointments, 540 hours of physiotherapy, 680 hours in the pool, 950 hours in the gym and only 65 hours skiing – Larisa was back on her feet and racing again.
In April 2013, whilst dealing with her recovery, Yurkiw launched Team Larisa Racing – a self-funding inatiive necessary to keep her on the road to recovery, competition and the Olympics after the national team could no longer fund her due to her injury. Injecting $25,000 of her own savings into her training fund, she singlehandedly raised another $100,000-plus, with much of the funding coming from the Toronto business community, the Ukrainian Credit Union in Toronto included. Yurkiw also hired a coach, Austrian Kurt Mayr, in addition to booking travel, arranging and paying for lift passes — the minutiae most Olympians leave to support staff.
With her training paying off, Yurkiw qualified for the Sochi Olympics after finishing sixth in a women’s downhill skiing World Event in Austria this January. This was her second Top 12 placing of the season and allowing her to meeting the standard for inclusion on the Canadian Olympic team.
A true champion of perseverance, and nicknamed “Canada’s Comeback Kid”
Yurkiw raced the Downhill on February 12, and the Super Giant Slalom on February 15 at the Sochi Olympics. The UCC proudly congratulates her on her athletic achievements!