Part 2: Eight Pioneers Headed to 2022 Beijing Olympic Games

At least eight athletes who wear (or who have worn) the Crimson and Gold of the University of Denver Pioneers have been named to participate in the 2022 Beijing Olympic Winter Games by their respective Olympic Teams, slated to begin in China in February.  Part II of this two-part series, below, profiles four more DU alumni skiers headed to Beijing — three who have been named to the Canadian ski team (Amelia Smart, Trevor Philp and Erik Read) and DU skiing alumna Andrea Komšić, who will ski for Croatia in her third Olympic Games. Part I profiled the two DU athletes who are slated to represent Team USA – Current DU student and DU ski team athlete Katie Hansien and DU hockey alumnus Nick Shore, as well as DU hockey alumnus Juho Olkinoura and Pioneer alumna Nordic skier Jasmi Joensuu, who will both represent Team Finland.

Amelia Smart was a three-time NCAA individual champion at DU and will race for Canada in Beijing in 2022. Photo: Team Canada

Amelia Smart (Invermere, British Columbia) is one of the greatest skiers in recent University of Denver history. She burst on to the collegiate scene as a DU freshman in 2018, winning the NCAA individual titles in both slalom and giant slalom and led the Denver to the 2018 NCAA Championship, the most recent team title won by the Pioneers. She capped-off her DU career in 2021 with another NCAA Slalom Championship as a senior in her final Pioneer ski meet. Smart skied for four seasons at DU from 2018 to 2021, earning all-American status in all four seasons. 

Internationally, Beijing will be her first Olympic Games, and Smart, 24, will be skiing for her native Canada. She comes to Beijing on a high, having just earned her career-best ninth place professional finish in a World Cup slalom event this year in Schladming, Austria on Jan. 11th, 2022 — her first-ever top 10 World Cup finish, improving from the 13th and 20th place finishes in two World Cup races earlier in January in Croatia. She also finished 27th in the slalom at the FIS World Ski Championships in 2021 and 22nd in 2019, 7th in slalom at the FIS Junior World Ski Championships in 2019, and finished in the top 20 at the Youth Olympics in 2016. She also topped the podium with first-place finishes in three Nor-Am Cup events in 2019, 2020, and 2021.

Amelia’s sister, Eleri, is a DU sophomore on the Pioneer ski team.

Trevor Philp, seen here during his college career as a Denver Pioneer, will ski in his third Olympics for Team Canada in Beijing. Photo: Alchetron

Trevor Philp has been a member of the Canadian Alpine Ski Team since 2012 and has established himself at age 29 as a consistent threat in slalom and giant slalom on the FIS World Cup circuit. Philip will join the Canadian Team for his third Olympic Games, following up on his 18th place finish in the giant slalom and ninth in the team event at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, Korea. Philp was also a member of Team Canada for the Sochi Olympics in Russia in 2014, finishing 25th in the giant slalom.

He is currently ranked #68 in the world in slalom, and #37 in giant slalom. He has also skied in five World Championships, including the 2021 edition, where he finished 10th in the alpine combined. In 2018/19, the Toronto-born athlete found himself in two World Cup top-10s, with his best race to date being a 7th place finish in the giant slalom in Beaver Creek, Colo. He also has a European Cup title from a 2014 event in Zell am See, Austria, his only podium finish in Europe.

Philp competed equally in tennis and ski racing until age 14, when he began pursuing ski racing full time, calling Calgary, Alberta as his home city. At DU, Philp had a strong four-year career with the Pioneers from 2012 -2015, earning all-America honors as a sophomore, junior and senior. His NCAA highlights include a second place in the NCAA Championships in slalom his senior year (2015) as well as another second-place NCAA slalom finish in his junior year (2014), helping the Pioneers win their 22nd NCAA team title. He also finished fourth in the NCAA giant slalom in 2015 in his senior season, and as a sophomore, he finished seventh at the 2014 NCAA Championship giant slalom.  

Erik Read, a 2016 NCAA Champion at DU, will ski for Canada at the Beijing Olympics. Photo: GEPA

Philp’s DU, Team Canada and fellow Calgarian teammate Erik Read, 30, (DU 2015-2017) has been one of the leaders on the men’s Canadian Alpine Ski Team for the last few years and is ranked #29 in both slalom and giant slalom as of mid-January 2022. He returns for his second Olympic Games for Canada, after representing Canada at the 2018 Olympic Games, where he finished 11th in the giant slalom and 29th in the slalom in Pyeongchang, Korea.

Read finished in the top-15 four times in 2020/21, highlighted by two 10th place results in giant slalom in Santa Caterina, Italy. Although he has yet to capture a podium finish at the World Cup level, the veteran has a positive outlook on this season, as he strives towards World Cup and Olympic podiums.

Read had a decorated DU career, skiing in three NCAA seasons in Crimson and Gold from 2015 to 2017, earning all-American honors twice. His most dominant year was 2016 when he was named the Men’s Alpine Skier of the Year as NCAA Champion in slalom and finished third in giant slalom to help lead the Pioneers to their 23rd NCAA Championship in Steamboat Springs, Colo.  In 2015, Read finished third and fifth at the NCAA Championships in the slalom and giant slalom races, respectively.  He also skied on the World Cup circuit during his DU days and scored more World Cup points in 2015 than all Pioneer skiers over the last 30 years combined to that point, while maintaining a 4.0 GPA through his junior campaign.

While the Alberta native’s career has been full of highlights, his best effort came in 2019 when he finished 7th in the World Cup giant slalom in Soelden, Austria en route to being named the 2019/20 Alpine Canada Male Athlete of the Year. Read has 46 top-30 finishes in the World Cup, with 22 of them coming in the giant slalom. He relies on his trustworthy lucky ski socks on race days, a pair he has used for years — albeit washing them regularly.

Erik is the son of legendary “Crazy Canuck”, Ken Read, a Canadian Olympian in 1976 and 1980, who won five World Cup downhill races in his career and is now a well-known skiing executive.  His mother, Lynda (Robbins) Read, and younger brother, Kevyn (who skied at Dartmouth), are retired Team Canada ski racers, and Erik’s youngest brother, Jeff, is an alpine speed skier for Team Canada.

Andrea Komšić, who graduated from DU in 2020, will ski in her third Olympics for Croatia in Beijing. Photo: Sport DE

Andrea Komšić, 25, (Zagreb, Croatia/DU 2016-2020) who graduated from DU in 2020, was a three-time all-American at DU and will ski for Croatia in her third Olympic Games. While a student at DU, she finished 31st in the slalom and 32nd in the giant slalom in the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang, Korea. While still a high school student in Croatia, she finished 33rd in the slalom and 35th in the giant slalom in the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

She will come into Beijing skiing at perhaps her professional career peak, finishing second at the Austrian National Championship slalom on January 13th, 2022.  She is currently ranked #67 in the world in slalom and #88 in giant slalom and looks to move up from her previous Olympic finishes. She also finished on the podium at all of her races at the 2021 Serbian National Junior Championships and the Croatian National Junior Championships, winning slalom and giant slalom titles in Serbia, and third place donors in her native Croatia. She also picked up a career-best eight cup points by finishing 23rd in a European Cup race in Gstaad, Switzerland in 2021.

Andrea was born in Bosnia in 1996, and her family moved to Zagreb, the capital of neighboring Croatia when Andrea was 10 years old. She graduated from DU in 2020 and was a big part of the Pioneers’ 24th NCAA Team Championship in 2018, where she finished fourth for first-team all-America status in the slalom and took 11th in the giant slalom. She also placed 12th in the giant slalom at the NCAA Championships in 2020, and earned all-American status twice at the 2017 NCAA Championships, taking tenth in the giant slalom and fifth in the slalom. Heavily recruited to NCAA skiing, she turned down offers from CU, Utah, and Alaska-Anchorage to come to DU. 

In 2020 in a DU facebook video, Komšić appeared to enjoy her DU experience, saying that DU tries to “make you a better skier and a happier skier.” She said that the DU ski team is like a “small family…taking care of each other”.

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