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For her age, Masha Stich is one of Canada’s top-ranked nordic ski racers. Stich put in hours and hours of hard work, determination, skill, patience, and planning to get to that level.
During the winter months, Stich’s skiing life consisted of training and racing, seven days per week. In the warmer months, it was about doing activities that feed into her racing. Trail running, hiking, you name it – they all contributed in some way to Stich’s primary extracurricular activity. Skiing at Stich’s level is a full plate. And when you add on top of that plate a desire to excel in rigorous academics, yes, things can get stressful.
To some degree, a year without competition was for Stich a breath of fresh air. After being named to the provincial ski team and competing in NORAM’s, national and provincial level events, she had time to think sans competition. Time to reflect on what she was doing and why. Time to gain a new perspective.
Stich chose a heavy course load this year because she wasn’t sure what she wanted her major to be at university. “I took all the sciences and maths. I did enjoy it, but it was a lot. I thought taking all those courses was the best way to keep all my options open. And I was just glad that we were in school all year rather than having to do it online.”
Stich applied and got into four different universities – three in the states (University of Denver, Northern Michigan and Alaska) and the University of Calgary. At the U of C, Stich was accepted into the engineering program.
“But I eventually declined all of them,” she said, smiling. After investing so much of her time and energy into one sport, it was a hard decision to step away. For the past six years, skiing has been Stich’s life.
Instead of continuing her career as a nordic ski racer, the German-born Stich plans to take a gap year to work and travel around Europe. “I needed a year to think things over after the ski season I had at a high level. I realized I skied because of the people, so I’m excited to try new things next year.”
James Rose, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Columbia Valley Pioneer