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11 November 2020 | in Winter FISU World University Games, FISU Athletes

My win at Krasnoyarsk was more mental than physical, says Canadian snowboarder Will Malisch

Will Malisch SBX3Sometimes the best things happen when you least expect them. That was pretty much how it was for Canadian snowboarder Will Malisch, at the Krasnoyarsk 2019 Winter Universiade.

 

“Going into Krasnoyarsk, I was pretty sure I was almost at the end of my snowboard racing career,” says Malisch candidly, as he reflects on the multi-winter-sport event in Siberia last year. “I hadn’t raced for a year. In fact, I hadn’t even trained much to be honest!”

 

“A lot of the other competitors didn’t even know me, especially the younger ones. They were probably wondering who this guy is, this bib number 31,” he adds with a laugh.  

 

Malisch ended up pulling off a big upset win over the twice Junior World Champion Daniil Dilman of Russia, winning Canada’s first snowboard gold at the FISU World University Games.

 

“I think it was more like a mental game rather than physical,” he says of his dramatic win. “Right before the last jump, I looked back and kind of knew I had it done it. When you stand up and cross the finish line, it’s one hell of a feeling!”

 

As soon as the victory had sunk in, Malisch ran over and hugged his teammate Audrey McManiman.

Will Malisch SBX1

“Honestly, I don’t think I would have been able to do it without her,” he tells FISU. “In fact, the whole team; there was just a really good chemistry amongst us.”

 

Not only were his fellow Canadian snowboarders present to witness his victory, but in fact the entire Canadian ice-hockey squad was also closely following his exploits.

 

Will Malisch CAN2“Team Canada really came together, at Krasnoyarsk. I was talking to the hockey team just the day before the race and suggested they come to the snowboard cross,” says Malisch, who happens to be a huge ice-hockey fan. “And the whole team showed up!  That was so sick that they were all there to cheer me on.”

 

For the uninitiated, the slang meaning of ‘sick’ is quite the opposite; it refers to something that's outstandingly or amazingly good. And that’s how Malisch describes the entire experience at Krasnoyarsk.

 

“It was really cool for all the athletes. All those people, the fans. Filled stands, just unbelievable atmosphere.”

 

The 23-year-old thinks he may just have a shot at competing at the next winter edition of the FISU World University Games, which will be held in Lucerne, Switzerland, in December 2021. Currently in his sixth year of a double degree in computer science and business, he thinks he might be enrolled in a master’s degree programme by then.

 

“I’m not entirely sure yet,” he divulges. “When I graduate, I might work for a couple of years or I might pursue a master’s in computer science. School is really important to me.”

 

His dedication to education is quite evident, when he tells us about his days as a high student who was also competing as a snowboard racer at the same time.

 

“When we travelled for competition, a lot of my teammates would be hanging out, and I would be studying and catching up on classes,” he laughs. “Honestly looking back, I don’t think I’d be able to do it today. In high school I had the motivation, perhaps even more than at university.”

 

Will Malisch SBX2“That was the way my parents raised me,” he continues. “I really loved school. All my life, even when I was at my sporting peak around grade 12 in school or first year college, I knew that education was always going to be more important to me.”

 

For a young man who’s been racing competitively since he was 12 years old, that’s quite a statement.

 

Especially considering he was on the national development programme and represented Canada three years in a row at the FIS Snowboarding Junior World Championships, between 2015 and 2017.

 

Now however, he has virtually not competed since Krasnoyarsk 2019, and the focus is squarely on completing his dual degree.

 

“I really enjoyed my time competing, and then I went to school and thought this is more important,” says Will Malisch with a maturity that belies his age.

 

“I’ll always play sport though,” he adds quickly. “And like I said, if I’m still in school next winter, you might see me at Lucerne 2021!”

 

We wish him all the best, either way.

 

Watch our #ThrowbackThursday special with Will Malisch, as he talks us through his spectacular win at Krasnoyarsk.