When Leila Mostaço-Guidolin arrived as a PhD student at the University of Manitoba, Winnipeg in 2010, she knew nothing about winter sports. But as a natural athlete and competitive swimmer in her home country of Brazil, she decided to try cross-country skiing.

“I had a friend at the lab where I was working who was very enthusiastic about the outdoors and introduced me to it,” recalls Mostaço-Guidolin, now a professor in Carleton’s Department of Systems Computer Engineering. “I quickly realized that cross-country skiing is a very complicated sport.”

But this wasn’t just a weekend hobby. Mostaço-Guidolin had always dreamed of being in the Olympics and thought this new sport might just be her ticket.

Professor Leila Mostaço-Guidolin (Photo: Niko Jouhkimainen)

“Growing up in Brazil, I didn’t even know there was a Winter Olympics,” she recalls. “But among all winter sports, I thought this would be a reasonable one to start later in life.”

At age 27, Mostaço-Guidolin started serious ski training. She competed in cross-country and biathlon in more than 20 countries for six years, racking up points to qualify for the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. Despite meeting the qualification requirements, she lost the one spot for cross-country skiing on the Brazilian team to another Brazilian competitor, who happens to live in Quebec. But her love of the sport continues—especially now that she’s accepted a job in Ottawa.

“The Gatineau Park is so amazing: it’s better than Disneyland,” enthuses Mostaço-Guidolin, who has been enjoying this winter’s bountiful snowfall. “In Winnipeg, there are no mountains, so I had to train on a golf course on the the river bank ‘hills’.”

When things open up again, Mostaço-Guidolin plans to compete as a master skier in cross-country events, including the Gatineau Loppet. She is exploring a transition to triathlon in the summer, but until then, she is focused on online teaching and research as a new professor in the Faculty of Engineering and Design. Still, skiing serves an essential purpose.

“It’s part of my work-life balance. I truly enjoy being active and sports are the way I can escape and reconnect with myself.

Friday, March 12, 2021 in , ,
Share: Twitter, Facebook

More News Posts