With the 2014 Olympic Winter Games kicking off, memories of 2010 will begin flooding back for Canadians. It was only four short years ago when we welcomed the world to British Columbia as Vancouver cemented its place as a passionate, world-class sports city.
But those memories are even more special in the home of Whitecaps FC captain Jay DeMerit. It was his wife Ashleigh (pictured above) who claimed the first ever Olympic gold medal in Women’s Ski Cross and captured the hearts and minds of Canadians across the country.
Today, she is Ashleigh DeMerit – she and Jay married in August. But the name Canadians will remember from 2010 is Ashleigh McIvor, the local girl from Whistler competing in her hometown.
“The confidence I had going into our home games was unlike anything I'd ever experienced,” explains Ashleigh to whitecapsfc.com. “I would say it was a confidence that I was 100% ready, and that I had more going for me than any of my competitors did.
“From things like the fact that my Mom lived just up the street from the Olympic Village, to the familiarity of the weather, terrain, and vegetation, to the results I'd posted in the lead up to the Olympics,” continued the hometown hero. “I rarely, rarely, thought about that actual gold medal, I just knew I was going to represent our province and country well, regardless of the end result.”
With that confidence though, came the end result she was looking for – victory on her home turf. “Words cannot describe what that felt like,” says the proud Canadian.
But equally as important as that gold medal is what it led her to ...the love of her life.
A year after her Olympic triumph, Ashleigh was asked to drop the puck at a Vancouver Canucks game. Afterwards, she was invited to come up to the Bell Canada suite – partners of both Whitecaps FC and the Canadian Olympic Team. They brought her up to meet the ‘Caps first ever MLS signing, Jay DeMerit. “They mentioned that he was ‘pretty easy on the eyes,’” remembers the future Mrs. DeMerit.
The rest, as they say, is history. Although Ashleigh jokes that “Jay keeps saying there’s no way he would have married me if I’d won silver or bronze.”
Now, as one of the most recognizable couples in Vancouver, both Ashleigh and Jay are constantly out in the community, inspiring the next generation of stars. It’s a passion that they both share.
When talking about her gold medal, Ashleigh is quick to credit her success to the great team of people around her – a trait of leadership also instilled in our ‘Caps captain.
“Jay and I definitely view the world through the same eyes,” says Ashleigh. “Sharing the same values, morals, and ideals has definitely brought us closer together than I’d ever thought to be possible in a relationship.”
While Jay has returned for another season leading Whitecaps FC, Ashleigh has moved on to the next stage of her career as an analyst with CBC at the current Winter Olympics in Sochi.
She’s counting on this year’s Canadian team to keep the Women’s Ski Cross gold medal draped in red and white, including Marielle Thompson, Kelsey Serwa, and local Vancouver soccer fanatic Georgia Simmerling. And though Jay is a proud American, she says that they won’t be watching the Olympics on opposite ends of the couch.
“I support lots of American athletes,” says Ashleigh. “But really ...I think we are slowly turning Jay into a Canadian.”