Leah Kirchmann, LEAP
Alumna Leah Kirchmann is heading to Tokyo to compete in The Summer Olympic Games as a roadbiker for Team Canada!
“It is such an honour to represent Canada at the Olympic Games! I am a very proud Canadian and love every opportunity I get to represent our country abroad,” says Leah. “There is just so much that goes into making an Olympic team and then competing at your best on the world stage. I am so grateful for everything I learned on my journey to the Rio and now Tokyo Olympic Games. If there is one thing Quest instilled in me, it is a love of learning, and I just continue to learn and grow in my sport while striving to be the best athlete possible.”
Leah decided to attend Quest in 2008 because she saw it as a great opportunity to pursue both sport and academics. At the time, she was competing as a cross-country skier and was invited to join the Callaghan Valley Training Centre team that was based out of Squamish.
“The team had a connection with Quest and they encouraged me to check out the university,” says Leah. “I decided to apply because it was an exciting opportunity to be part of something new and revolutionary in education. I decided to focus full time on road cycling after that first year and benefited from the flexibility of the LEAP program.”
The LEAP program (Leaders in Elite Athletics and Performance) is an innovative model that allows students to study while also pursuing their sports or performance arts. For students like Leah, this is a very desirable opportunity to study and pursue their passion without having to sacrifice either one.
LEAP, in conjunction with the Block Plan, allowed Leah to access training camp opportunities and attend important races, like the Spring Classics in Europe and World Championships in the fall without missing any class.
“These races were instrumental in helping me gain the necessary skills and abilities in my sport to compete at the professional and Olympic level,” says Leah.
Check out a few quotes from Leah during a recent interview with Quest staff:
Can you tell us about one or two of your favourite experiences at Quest?
I have fond memories of adventure pursuit days with the entire student body, and going on block break camping adventures with friends in the beautiful BC mountains. One of my favourite block break trips from first year was leaving on an overnight hiking trip to Garibaldi lake in the dark after somebody accidentally washed their clothes twice and delayed our departure. I still remember waking up in the morning to one of the most gorgeous views of the lake and snow-capped mountains that were all hidden when we arrived at night.
What were some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced in your sport, and how have you overcome them?
Some of the biggest challenges have come in the form of injuries. It is inevitable that crashes will happen at some point as a cyclist. I’ve broken my collarbone twice, suffered concussions and experienced a lot of road rash. I always focus on the things I have in my control when faced with challenges, and use these obstacles as opportunities to improve and become more resilient.
What are you looking forward to most about going to the Games?
I’m looking forward to doing my very best to make Canada proud while competing in Tokyo. The pandemic has challenged us all in different ways this past year, and I hope the Games can be a celebration of athletes overcoming challenges and inspiring us all with their performances.
Is there anything you’d like to say as encouragement to other Quest LEAP students?
I would encourage Quest LEAP athletes to take advantage of the amazing training opportunities around Squamish, and to embrace all of the support that the Quest community has to offer. I also encourage LEAP students to apply those lessons from Quest towards changing their sports and communities for the better. We have very unique platforms as athletes and should do our best to use our voices to create positive change where it’s possible.