Karolina Wisniewska (who is originally from Calgary, but now lives in Ottawa) is a three-time Paralympian and winner of eight Paralympic medals in Para alpine skiing. She won two silver medals at Nagano in 1998, two silver and two bronze medals in Salt Lake City in 2002, and two bronze at Vancouver 2010.
Wisniewska’s four medals at the Salt Lake City 2002 Paralympic Games set a new record at the time, as the first Canadian winter sport athlete to win four medals at a single Olympic or Paralympic Games. Over the course of her career, she won dozens of medals across all disciplines at International Paralympic Committee World Cups and won the overall World Cup title in 2003.
She started alpine skiing at age five as a form of physiotherapy for cerebral palsy and raced able-bodied skiers as a member of the Sunshine Ski Club in Banff, Alta. until age 18, when she decided to try racing against competitors with a disability. She swept the 1994 national championships in the standing category in all disciplines, was named to the Canadian Para Alpine Ski Team in 1995 and was crowned the 1996 world champion in Super G in Austria. She would go on to multiple podiums at the 2000 World Championships in Switzerland and would also compete at the 2009 World Championships in Korea.
Wisniewska originally retired after a concussion in 2003, before making a comeback in 2007 to compete at the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Games on home soil. Her determination is greatly admired by her teammates and staff members who surrounded her throughout that time. She ultimately added two more medals to her total at those home Games in Vancouver.
In 2007, Wisniewska was honoured for her accomplishments with a place in the Canadian Ski Hall of Fame, the first Paralympian to receive this honour.
Since her retirement from competition in 2012, Wisniewska has continued to give back to the sport, volunteering with youth skiers at national championships and at Carving the Future camps held by Alpine Canada.
She will join the Canadian Paralympic Team for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games as an athlete ambassador, an important part of the support team.
Wisniewska is a Senior Exhibitions Manager at The National Gallery of Canada. She holds a Master’s degree in art history from Oxford University and an undergraduate degree in political science and history from McGill University.
She was inducted into the Canadian Paralympic Hall of Fame in 2017.