Name: Eric Neilson
Hometown: Kelowna, BC
Favourite Sports Memory: I think it has to be my first ever World Cup race in Igls, Austria. I remember warming up and being pretty overwhelmed that I had finally made it to the World Cup tour and I was racing against all the guys I would watch race before. My first run was pretty bad and I was 15th after the first run but after my second run I moved up to 7th. I was so happy that I was on the World Cup tour and that I could hang with big boys in a race.
How you got involved in your sport: A friend of mine saw tryouts online that were happening in Vancouver and asked me if I wanted to give it a try. I figured there was really no reason to say no so we went to tryout. I had a pretty good showing and they invited me to Calgary for a test camp. I love competition so I thrived on it and I set a goal of making it to the driving camp so I could at least go down the track once head first. I accomplished that goal and after my first run down the track I was totally hooked. I was addicted to the speed and the feeling of hurling myself down the track with my face an inch away from the ice. There wasn’t another feeling like it.
The moment you knew you wanted to represent Canada: Ever since I was a kid I wanted to represent my country. I would always (still do) watch the Olympics and International events in awe of the skill and pure dedication the athletes give to their sport and country. I can’t think of anything better than being able to represent Canada in every race I am in. It truly is a dream come true for me.
Favourite Quote: “The vision of a Champion is someone who is bent over, drenched in sweat, at the point of exhaustion, when no one else is watching.” ~ Unknown
CAN Fund Testimonial: CAN Fund single handedly saved my season this year. I was really strapped for cash as I’m unable to work for 6 months of the year and I was thinking that this year, the year to get to my Olympic Qualifiers, I wouldn’t be able to finish the season because I couldn’t afford to be on tour anymore and I’d have to go back home to work. I can’t even describe the stress this caused me while I was on tour to think that I would have to stop racing to go home and go back to work and possibly miss my chance at getting my Olympic qualifiers. The day that I received the call from CAN Fund was unbelievable. I was so happy I didn’t know what to say. This is such a great organization and for them to call me gave me the opportunity to continue doing what I love and go after my dream of representing Canada in the Olympics.
-Canadian Champions Gold
-5th Whistler World Cup
Share one valuable tool that you use on a daily basis that helps you to be the best athlete you can be: Other than drinking copious amounts of coffee to make it through each day I’d have to say the ability to leave it all in the gym or at the track. When I’m at home I like to leave whatever happened at the track or in the gym there. I try not to bring my troubles or sliding issues home with me. When I get home I like to be home and relax. This helps me keep my mind clear and have some life balance. If too much of myself is devoted to one aspect of my life things don’t go as well. I think it’s very important to be able to separate the dedicated, hard nosed, competitive athlete in me with the enjoyable and relaxed self that people can actually be around.
Who is one person in your life that has impacted your career and what was it that they taught you: I’d have to say Duff Gibson, my head coach. Duff has been my coach since I started on and off in the sport. He has a wealth of knowledge into the sport and a great outlook on how the game should be played and how one should conduct themselves when competing. He has always but an emphasis on the team aspect of the sport and how important it is for all of us to work together towards a common goal. Duff has helped me find the slider I am and he is always pushing and challenging me to be better.
Fun Facts: I am a water child. I grew up in Kelowna so almost every day of my life was spent either swimming, waterskiing, canoeing…etc. I pretty much love anything that can be done on, around, or in water. That’s when I’m happiest. So who knows why I chose a sport that I can hurl myself down a frozen water slide?