Larisa Yurkiw is one of the top 3 downhill ski racers in the world, an accomplished entrepreneur — and the first global athlete to combine these two skills in what has become known around the world as “Team Larisa.”
Her voyage took her from a tiny ski hill in Ontario, Canada, to the Sochi Olympics of 2014, and to the peaks of the Swiss Alps and the elite world of the World F.I.S. Ski Racing Championship, where she competed and won — on her own terms — in the most elite of sports.
Racing at speeds of 140km/h down the world’s steepest mountains, she overcame personal, medical and national political setbacks to achieve her dream — and prove that in the 21st century, elite athlete’s can compete on their terms — and change the world of sports forever.
It’s proven to be one of the most compelling, brash, and inspirational business and sports stories of our time.
Larisa was raised in Owen Sound, Ontario, far removed from the world of global F.I.S. World Cup racing and Olympic ski racing.
But at the age of 12, she caught the ‘bug’ of becoming a champion ski racer. She ended up taking a Greyhound bus over to a local hill known as the Georgian Peaks Ski Club for training. And from that, she developed a passion for ski racing that was tied into a love for the outdoors and a daring love for speed.
From the age of 12, she was determined to succeed.
It didn’t take long. Larisa made the Canadian National Ski Team at the age of 17, and soon began to climb the worldly ladder of international competition, destined to compete against the world’s best. She was named to the Canadian Ski Team by Alpine Canada in 2008, and was destined to compete internationally.
Yet on the eve of the Vancouver Winter Olympics 2010, Larisa sustained a catastrophic knee injury.. many deemed “career-ending”. With the realization that she was missing a unique opportunity to compete in a home Olympics, she set her sights on Sochi 2014 and the World Cup Circuit. Larisa spent the next 24 months in rehabilitation, and returned to the race circuit.
Yet again, just a handful of races after returning to the world stage, she was cut from the National Ski Team, and saw her potential to compete instantly crushed. Without national support, funding, coaching and other support, the message was clear — her dream would not be achieved within the typical structure of the sport.
With this setback, Larisa’s entrepreneurial spirit was lit with the formation of Team Larisa Racing and the goal of raising the necessary funding on her own. It became the vehicle and the model for how to ‘tackle the world of sports, outside the world of sports.’ Larisa took to going from exhausting physical training and exercise rehabilitation to the boardrooms, building a unique business enterprise that would take her to the top.
It was a model that worked. Larisa’s determination for success saw her represent her nation at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. It didn’t stop there — just two years later, she climbed from a 77th ranked in the world to 3rd.
In doing so, Larisa managed not only her emotions, but also a $250,000 budget with support staff and a globe-trotting schedule.