The Serwa family has always had deep roots in the history of Kelowna’s Big White Ski Resort. So it’s only fitting that Kelsey Serwa’s start in skiing is directly tied back to Big White, which was co-founded by her grandfather Cliff.
Kelsey’s parents owned and operated Serwa Bulldozing, which completed development work on the mountain. When Kelsey was five, the Big White Racers ski club approached the Serwas to dig a new foundation where the ski club cabin could be moved to. But rather than pay cash for the job, in exchange the club offered free ski lessons for Kelsey and her siblings. Kelsey’s parents thought it was a great deal at the time, but no one could have foreseen this would send Kelsey flying down the course to become one of the world’s best ski cross racers.
Growing up, besides skiing Kelsey played a wide variety of other sports—everything from field hockey to basketball and karate and even various forms of dance including Highland and ballet. Kelsey’s focus turned to alpine skiing in her teens, but she struggled to keep up with Canada’s top racers. Then she discovered ski cross and everything changed. From 2009-19, she was a mainstay on the Canadian national freestyle skiing team.
Kelsey represented Canada in ski cross at three Winter Olympics, finishing 5th at Vancouver 2010, grabbing silver at Sochi 2014 behind Canadian teammate Marielle Thompson, and then winning gold in 2018 at Pyeongchang just ahead of close friend and teammate Britt Phelan. To this day, Kelsey and Marielle stand as the two most decorated Olympic ski cross racers in history.
Along the way, Kelsey won the 2011 ski cross world championship and three Winter X Games medals: gold in 2011 and 2016, bronze in 2010. On the FIS World Cup tour she accumulated eight career victories and 20 podium finishes.
Written and researched by Jason Beck, Curator of the BC Sports Hall of Fame.