Biography:

Kristina Valjas and partner Jamie Broder made history in April 2015 when they became the first Canadian women to ever win an FIVB World Tour medal, taking gold at the season-opening Fuzhou Open in China. They had advanced to the final by upsetting three-time Olympic gold medallist Kerri Walsh and her Olympic silver medallist partner April Ross of the United States. The Canadian duo had ended their 2014 season on a high, achieving their first ever top-five World Tour finish at the Parana Open in Argentina. They found themselves back on the podium with a third place finish at the Lucerne Open in May and had a near-miss at the Porec Major Series in Croatia when they finished fourth. Valjas first teamed with Broder in November 2011 when the latter was looking for a blocker as a partner. Together they won the NORCECA continental title in 2013 and 2015. Valjas had the opportunity to attend the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi as a spectator to support her younger brother Lenny, a cross-country skier. That was her first exposure to Olympic competition, which allowed her to see how athletes deal with the pressures of competing on the biggest stage and stay focused while everyone is looking for a piece of their time. In their first Olympic appearance at Rio 2016, Broder and Valjas advanced to the round of 16 where they were defeated by fellow Canadians Sarah Pavan and Heather Bansley to finish tied for ninth.

Getting to know…

Family: Parents Peter and Marianne both played volleyball for the U of T Varsity Blues… Younger brothers Lenny and Austin… Role model and hero is Lenny, a member of the national cross-country skiing team and Olympian… Getting into the Sport: Played indoor volleyball with U of T Varsity Blues 2005-10… Introduced to the beach game as off-season training but her university coach told her she had the potential to be an Olympian and make a living in beach volleyball… Joined national beach team in 2010… Had competed in mountain biking and cross-country skiing when younger… Outside Interests: Graduated from the University of Toronto with a Bachelor of Arts in Linguistics… Enjoys getting the chance to be a tourist in the off-season… Odds and Ends: Nicknames: Stina, XT, Shrimp… Favourite motto: The journey is the reward… Says that she and Broder would be a good team on The Amazing Race