August 26, 2021 • Mountain Living
A Mountain Life with Kelly VanderBeek
By Kate Barker
Born in small town Northern Ontario, Kelly VanderBeek moved to Kitchener-Waterloo at a young age and absolutely fell in love with sports. Downhill skiing became her passion, and she competed as a member of the Canadian National Ski Team for 13 years. Her competitive career took her to international events around the world, including multiple World Cups and the 2006 winter Olympics. VanderBeek’s success at skiing bridged naturally into her second career as a television host and broadcaster, covering sports events from the Calgary Stampede to the Olympic Games.
Kelly VanderBeek is also an accomplished artist and photographer. She volunteers for many sporting organizations and is passionate about athletes in Canada.
Q: What initially drew you to the mountains?
A: I came from Ontario where there aren’t any! I was first exposed to Whistler in BC when I was 13 years old, and it just grew from there. As an athlete, and being a downhill ski racer, I travelled the world from mountain range to mountain range. I initially thought, “The world is so big, why would I ever live in Canada?” But I later came to the realization that this country is so amazing, why would I live anywhere else!
I travel a lot and I’m a lover of different cultures. But Canada is where it’s at.
Q: You could live anywhere in the world, what made you choose Canmore?
A: My husband is an Olympic kayaker and we lived in Chilliwack for a while since that’s where he trained. When we were reaching the end of his competitive career, we started looking at the world and asking, “Where do we want to live?”
We knew the area well from racing and training at Lake Louise, especially with the annual World Cup. We were passing through Canmore and we started looking at homes. Everything we saw we loved, so we knew we were meant to live here. We never looked back. This is where our son was born, and this is home.
Q: What is your favourite part about living in Canmore?
A: The pockets of exceptional talent, intelligence and culture that’s in this little town. I’m an avid photographer and painter and there’s world class talent right here. As an athlete, Canmore has incredible world class athletic ability in this valley. On the musical side, there is world class music coming from both Banff and Canmore.
It’s like we live in the world’s coolest neighbourhood, and it just happens to be in the Rocky Mountains.
Q: What’s the community like in Canmore?
A: Before we moved here, I called two friends of ours: Thomas Grandy and Sara Renner, both Olympic athletes, and asked what it’s like raising a family in this town. I knew what it was like as an athlete, but I wanted to know what it was like as we started the next phase of our lives. Without a pause, Sara replied, “Better.”
There are threads of communities that have grounded us in ways that are very enriching. My mother is from Montreal and I grew up speaking French as a second language. That’s a part of who I am and I speak French here more than ever. The francophone community is so strong.
Q: Do you have any advice for people looking to move to the mountains?
A: There was some sticker shock when we bought our first home. We had a conversation and we chose to invest in our daily life and wellbeing rather than leave the money sitting in a bank. We decided to invest in a home, but we really chose to invest in our daily quality of life.