Quest University’s student body has always been comprised of exceptional individuals. Mollie Jepsen makes it clear that’s true both in academics and athletics. Jepsen, now 22, has been skiing since she was two years old—and it shows.
As a Para Alpine skier, she gravitates towards high speed events like downhill and super-G, often racing at speeds of over 100 km/h.
“I was born a partial hand amputee on my left side, so I‘m missing a few fingers,” Jepsen said. “It really doesn’t affect me in many ways in my life, but in ski racing it means I’m only skiing with one pole.”
Jepsen grew up competing against able-bodied skiers and eventually started to get noticed on the hill. She recalls a tweet early on that someone sent to the Para Alpine team, ‘Keep an eye out for this girl, she’s out here skiing with one pole and it’s pretty awesome.’
Finding Olympic success
At the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games Jepsen was still relatively unknown.
“I was very under the radar going into 2018,” she said.
It quickly became clear that would change.
In the women’s standing category she brought home four medals: a gold medal in super combined, a silver in slalom, and a bronze in both downhill and giant slalom.
Jepsen was named the Female Para Alpine Skiing Athlete of the year for both 2018 and 2020, as well as Best Female Athlete of 2018 by the Canadian Paralympic Committee.
But there has been no resting on her laurels. Jepsen is headed to the Beijing 2022 Paralympics following a near-perfect season. She already made the podium in all seven races she competed in this year.
“I’m just having fun and doing my best,” an enthusiastic Jepsen said in a recent interview.
Combining athletics and academics
With a demanding training schedule on top of competitions, it’s surprising to learn that Mollie Jepsen is also thriving as a third-year university student at Quest University.
“It’s the Block Plan. I feel like it’s the perfect fit for me,” Jepsen said, referring to the university’s unique class structure where students focus on only one class each month. High-performance athletes, like Jepsen, are able to take a month (Block) off without falling behind.
“There’s no way I could handle a semester system,” Jepsen said. “One of my coaches who was an athlete prior to coaching took seven years to do his undergrad because he could only pick away at it throughout his career. I couldn’t see anything else working better than the Block Plan.”
Many athletes try to live a balanced life between their careers and studies, but this can often prove difficult.
Jepsen has noticed that she is much happier with her academic experience compared to athlete friends who attend traditional universities. “Going into midterms my friends that ski are saying, ‘I can’t do this anymore,’” Jepsen said. “I’m over here on my block plan like, ‘I’m happy, I’m loving life.’ At the end of the day, it’s amazing. I think there’s no better way to learn.”
Discovering community at Quest
Jepsen is a member of the LEAP (Leaders in Elite Athletics and Performance) program at Quest. This program allows not only athletes, but also artists, musicians, actors, and speakers extended flexibility to continue to pursue their careers while getting a post-secondary education.
“It’s a balance that’s working very well for me,” Jepsen said. “Being happy is obviously the most important thing. That means you’re going to be fast and you’re going to be strong.”
Currently on break from her studies, Jepsen is now Beijing-bound and expected to compete for numerous medals. “It’s unreal to represent Canada. I’m so proud to be able to do that,” Jepsen said.
Although she is excited to be competing again after two tumultuous years of
shutdowns related to the COVID-19 pandemic, Jepsen always looks forward to coming back to the Sea-to-Sky Corridor.
“Whistler is my favorite place on the planet, and I travel A LOT,” Jepsen said.
Along with the beautiful location and world-class skiing, Jepsen has many strong friendships among her classmates that she’s excited to return to.
“I remember talking to one of my friends who goes to UBC who said it took until third year to find her people at university,” Jepsen said. “At Quest, that happens within two weeks. You find your family really really quickly.”
Jepsen recalls talking to her mom about living on campus before her first year.
“I remember saying, ‘I’ll probably be home on the weekends, I don’t know what the social scene is going to be like. I’ll just come home,’” she said. “But then I never came home!”
Mollie Jepsen is clearly a special part of the Quest community. There is a growing excitement among students and staff as the date draws ever closer to the March 4th Beijing Paralympics kick-off.
Quest’s Student Life Committee is organizing an on-campus viewing party and the community is looking forward to cheering Mollie on during her events.
The Quest community wishes Mollie the best of luck at Beijing 2022!
→ Viewing details coming soon to our Event Calendar.
→ Follow Mollie on Instagram