For Georgia Simmerling, retirement is looking pretty much as you’d expect from a four-time Olympian in three different sports: busy.
Just one week after officially retiring from a career that included Olympic appearances as an alpine skier, ski-cross racer and track cyclist, the 32-year-old Simmerling is launching a female-focused sports agency, AG Sports Inc.
“There is a massive space for female representation in the agency world in Canada and I am so ready to stir that pot and shake things up in this country,” the Rio 2016 Olympic bronze medallist said this week from Toronto.
“The world is watching women’s sports. The facts are showing that. Brands and organizations and corporations need a little nudge to show them that this is the time to invest in women’s sports and I’m thrilled to take that on.”
She noted the record 4.4 million Canadians who watched the women’s soccer team win gold in Tokyo as well as 836,000 viewers for the women’s world hockey championship gold-medal game as recent examples.
Simmerling has already signed an impressive lineup of athletes, including recent world hockey champion Blayre Turnbull, women’s eight rowing Olympic gold medallist Kasia Gruchalla-Wesierski, world canoe champion and Tokyo bronze medallist Katie Vincent, Olympic bronze medallist in keirin cycling Lauriane Genest, track and field’s Maddy Price (fourth in Tokyo 4×400-metre relay), alpine slalom specialist Amelia Smart and freestyle halfpipe skier Amy Fraser. There are more to come.
By nature, Simmerling is a very focused, goal-oriented person. With retirement on the horizon after Tokyo, the Vancouver native knew she needed structure in her life and something to pour her heart into.
“I had a general idea of what I wanted to do and that was to stay in the world of sports more on the business side of things,” she said.
So, in the months leading up to the Olympics, instead of going home to watch Netflix after training, she spent time connecting with mentors, sponsors, people she had met as an athlete and athletes who are in the business of sport. There were a lot of Zoom meetings.
Things started to fall into place. She’d always enjoyed connecting with her sponsors during her career, noting relationships she’s had with companies like MacKenzie Investments and Lonsdale Quay Market in Vancouver.
“I just really found a sense of community amongst my team. They motivated me to train harder to train better and compete on the world stage. My job at AG is to find those partnerships for my athletes.
“We have an all-female roster of athletes at AG. I’m really proud of the athletes that I’ve signed. I can’t commit anything to them except my work ethic and my determination to build their brands.”
Career of never giving up
That grit, focus and determination was Simmerling’s signature as an athlete.
After switching from alpine skiing to ski cross, Simmerling reached the World Cup podium nine times and qualified for the 2014 Sochi Games.
She broke her wrist at the world championships in 2015, but ended up joining a Cycling Canada high-performance camp and made the pursuit team. She helped the team to gold at the Hong Kong World Cup, her first international race.
She says the most memorable moment of her sporting career came at Rio 2016, earning bronze alongside teammates Allison Beveridge, Jasmin Glaesser and Kirsti Lay.
Along with the success came injuries. A ski-cross crash in 2012 left Simmerling with three broken vertebrae in her neck and back. And just days before she would’ve been named to the Olympic team for Pyeongchang 2018, she suffered two broken legs and multiple torn ligaments in a crash at a World Cup in Nakiska. She announced her retirement from ski cross later that year.
But she didn’t retire from sport. She hopped back on the bike, and nearly won another bronze medal in the team pursuit at Tokyo, finishing fourth to the U.S.
So far, retirement has been seamless both professionally and personally.
Though she expects to travel frequently for her budding business, Simmerling’s home base will be Paris, where she’s joined by fiancé and PSG goalkeeper Stephanie Labbé, who captured Olympic gold with Canada’s women’s soccer team in Tokyo. They have an apartment in Saint-Germain along with their dog, Rio.
Down the road there may be more time for mundane activities in retirement, but for now it’s go-go-go — just like her time as an Olympian.
“Every waking hour I have been building my business,” she said.