University mourns loss of student athlete

(Edmonton) The University of Alberta community is mourning the sudden loss of arts student Isaak Kornelsen, 21, who died Monday morning after being hit by a cement truck while riding his bicycle on Whyte Avenue near 101 Street.

Kornelsen was working on a double major in philosophy and science, technology and society, an interdisciplinary field in the Faculty of Arts.

Professor Nathan Kowalsky, who taught Kornelsen in a philosophy class and an STS class, said he was "a wonderful guy" and "absolutely outstandingly brilliant."

"Every once in awhile you get a student and you go, 'Wow, this person needs to go on in his field'; he's that kind of bright light," Kowalsky said.

"He was one of those people you just love to hang out with, love to chat with; every time you saw him you just smiled."

"I'll chat with my colleagues and they'll say, 'Hey, I've got this really brilliant student,' and we go, 'Hey, it's the same one!' That was Isaak," Kowalsky said.

"He would have been in the top one per cent of the students I've taught."

Kornelsen was also an accomplished athlete who won several track and field running competitions in high school. As part of the U of A's track and field team, he won a bronze medal in the 4X800-metre relay and finished sixth in the 600-metre race at the Canada West championships in 2010.

Glen Playfair coached Kornelsen in high school and university, both through the U of A and the Edmonton Thunder track and field club.

"He was a very talented athlete. He had won the provincial high school 800-metre championships, and he also won the prestigious high school track meet called the Harry Jerome track and field meet in Vancouver, in the 1,500-metre, so he was one of the top juniors in the country and had a very promising future," Playfair said.

"He was quiet, gentle, very polite, an extremely nice person, you couldn't ask for a nicer person."

"In December he was going to be finished his degree and he was going to take some time and travel," Playfair said.

A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 1, at McKernan Baptist Church.