My Vancouver – Then & Now: Ashleigh McIvor & Jay DeMerit

Ashleigh McIvor and Jay DeMerit biking on the Vancouver seawall.

Ashleigh McIvor and Jay DeMerit biking on the Vancouver seawall.

My Vancouver – Then & Now Series

As one of the most desirable cities in the world in which to live, Vancouver has played a pivotal role in the destinies of many athletes, performers and creative minds.  Whether as a stepping stone at the beginning of their long careers (Academy Award –winner Jim Erickson); a safe harbour for immigrants to start again (Prima Ballerina, Chan Hon Goh ) or reaching the pinnacle of their life’s work here ( NHL’s ‘Captain Canuck’, Trevor Linden, ) the celebrated personalities of this new Inside Vancouver Series by Laura Goldstein, all have one thing in common:  MY VANCOUVER THEN & NOW is immeasurably in their hearts.

A mutual sponsor played cupid for two of Vancouver’s most heralded athletes while they watched a hockey game from the Bell Suite at Rogers Arena. Whether a match made in endorsement heaven or serendipity, Ski-Cross Gold Medalist, Ashleigh McIvor and Jay DeMerit, Captain of the Vancouver Whitecaps FC tied the knot on August 25th!

“The 2010 Vancouver Olympics was just a magical experience for me,” reminisces
Whistler-born McIvor taking a breather between wedding preparations. “I felt so calm – not nervous just excited-at the start gate and I felt the whole country was behind me before the race. I wanted to go out and have fun with it. It was just tremendous to win at the Vancouver Olympics because it was the first time that the International Olympic Committee agreed to debut ski-cross at the Games,” she explains.

With 11 World Cup podium honours she was forced to retire from competitive racing in 2011 because of a serious knee injury but continues to participate full throttle in absolutely everything she does.

The athletic dynamo who has parlayed her experience into modeling, commentating and public speaking engagements is still a self proclaimed “endorphin junkie.”

“Jay and I love cruising around Indian Arm seeing the waterfalls cascading into the ocean or we’ll rent a boat from Granville Island or Coal Harbour and go to Deep Cove kayaking and have a picnic. I’ve done the Grouse Grind several times and get my workout hiking up but because of my knees, take the gondola down. I always make sure I take my out-of-town guests up there.”

It’s Wisconsin-born DeMerit’s third year in Vancouver as Whitecaps FC Captain. “The Whitecaps are the oldest soccer team in North America and they really put soccer on the map here,” says DeMerit. “I wanted to come to Vancouver because of the culture and the fans here are amazing- they really enjoy the sport and know when to chant.”

He’s the star of the documentary Rise & Shine: The Jay DeMerit Story a tale of his enormous perseverance trying to grapple his way into the competitive British football leagues after college, eventually realizing his dream to play in the 2010 World Cup. The film ran in over 200 theatres in the U.S. and in 2012 won the Rising Star Award at the Canada International Film Festival in Vancouver.

While both athletes do a lot of charitable events, “I really want to develop the Rise & Shine Foundation in the near future,” says DeMerit “and hope Ashleigh will work with me to use our sports to inspire kids to work harder to attain their goals.”

“We live in a funky condo in Gastown,” says McIvor, “with an amazing view of Burrard Inlet and the North Shore Mountains and there are so many great bars and restaurants within walking distance like the Cork & Fin for oysters or The Flying Pig in Yaletown. Ashleigh and I really like to go to the Vogue Theatre too,” adds DeMerit.

“And of course, I really love to go to the Whitecaps’ games,” laughs McIvor. “It’s so much fun!”

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