One of the first members of the Canadian women’s halfpipe team in 2011, Keltie Hansen, 26 years old, announces her retirement from competitive freestyle skiing.
When halfpipe skiing as a discipline was incorporated into the Olympic program in 2014 for the Sochi Games, Hansen was one of the first halfpipe experts to participate.
Originally, from Edmonton, the multi-talented athlete had the best season of her career in 2011 when she took the bronze medal at the Freestyle World Ski Championships in Deer Valley. That season, she also finished fourth in the world rankings of the Association of Freeskiing Professionals (AFP) thanks to her results at the FIS World Championships and her victory at the AFP World Championships in 2011.
“I have so many amazing memories from being on the national team, it’s hard to just pick one,” said Hansen. “I made the team back when I was 19 years old, and I couldn’t believe that there was finally a national team for me to make! And I was going be one of the first women to be on it.”
“At that time, the team comprised of some my best friends and role models, and it was just such a wonderful family to be part of,”stated Hansen, mentioning the late Sarah Burke in particular.
“For a short period of time, that nonetheless marked me, I was on the same team as one of my all-time heroes, Sarah Burke. She was not only my teammate, but also a friend. I learned so much from her and am extremely fortunate to have had the chance to spend time with her.”
“I’m definitely going to miss travelling all over the world and competing in different places. I made so many friends on the circuit. I am definitely going miss seeing all of my international friends on a regular basis.”
Since she made her debut on the World Cup circuit in 2009 as a 16-year-old, she obtained ten top 10 results. Hansen also won the bronze at the Sochi World Cup in February 2013. The Alberta native, however, had to deal with injuries throughout her career. A torn knee ligament sustained eight months prior to the 2014 Games nearly jeopardized her participation in the Olympics, whereas another similar injury forced her to miss the entire 2015-16 season.
As a result, when she made her comeback to competition in 2016-17, her performance was adversely affected. She finished among the top 10 on the World Cup circuit only once after that, but she nonetheless participated in five World Championships throughout her career.
“I would like to thank everyone who supported me throughout my ski career. I would especially like to thank my parents, coaches, Trennon and Marc, Adrian King and all the IST staff. Really, everyone at Canada Freestyle always made me feel so supported, and I’m forever grateful for everyone that’s worked there and done all they can to make sure that I succeeded in my athletic career. I would also like to thank my sponsors, Columbia Outerwear, Atomic, and Smith Optics, all three of these sponsors stuck with me through the good and the bad. It was wonderful to work with such amazing companies.”
Trennon Paynter, head coach of the National halfpipe team, had the privilege to work with Keltie over the years: “Watching her develop from a fearless and somewhat reckless (in the best possible way) young girl into a thoughtful and dedicated National Team athlete has been such a rewarding coaching experience,” indicated Paynter. “Her competition results speak for themselves: multiple podiums across the highest level of competition, including the World Championships. Even more impressive is the character that she has consistently displayed over the course of her career. Any athlete in any sport would be well served to look to Keltie as an example of dedication, work ethics, and resilience through injury and setbacks. I’m confident that Keltie will continue to chase and achieve success, and myself and her teammates will continue to stay in contact and have her back, as she does.”
For halfpipe team coach Marc Mcdonell, Keltie was the shining example of determination and hard work. “She overcame some very difficult challenges throughout her career while maintaining her positive energy and sense of humour,” indicated Mcdonell. “I have the utmost respect for Keltie both as an athlete and a person. I’m proud to have had the special opportunity to work with her over the past seven years.”