Today’s inspiration is courtesy of InTheSnow Magazine, based in the UK. The guest post below focuses on the great accomplishments of women in winter sports. These ski and snow sportswomen truly are awesome!
On my last girls’ (or should I really be saying women’s) night out we got to talking about schools and the rights and wrongs of labelling ‘boys’ and ‘girls’ separately and what that then led to. One of the discussion points was segregation in school sport and the fact it was based on sex not size or ability. The girls always seemed to get second choice of the sports field or equipment and had virtually no opportunities for competitive and team sports outside school grounds. Girls who were competitive or physically strong were odd and not celebrated. Compare this experience to the boys where sporting prowess and a competitive nature were desirable characteristics. They had several teams and competed against other schools. It sets a president about how kids view themselves and, certainly for ladies of my generation, set an expectation (or lack thereof) about our sporting aspirations.
Sport and Wellbeing
Sport is essential for physical & mental fitness but is also an important way to develop character, determination and a belief in oneself. This is probably why girls who do sport are less likely to have unwanted pregnancies and engage in risky behaviors like drinking and drug use. It is a shame that generations of girls have not maximized their opportunity for personal growth via participation in school sports. The Women’s Sports Foundation has an interesting pdf on the importance of sport for women and girls so if you want to read more download it here.
Most of our cultures are patriarchal and certain traits are not viewed as desirable in women – being confident, being leaders, being physically strong and putting ourselves before others. These traits are essential for successful sportswoman but our societies do not encourage them to develop and grow in our girls. Modern media overwhelms us with images of women but they are almost exclusively scantily clad singers or actresses living out male fantasies. It is so important for our girls to be able to balance this distorted view with more positive role models. Participation in sport exposes them to inspiring girls their own age. They are also much more likely to find out about the adult sportswomen who are breaking down barriers and challenging expectations of what they should and should not be.
There are thousands of women throughout the world achieving unbelievable sporting feats but the media show very little interest in their accomplishments. It falls to us – their family, friends and educators to fill in the gaps and provide exposure to these inspiring stories.
I want to be able to inspire my 15 year old niece in this way. She is going through that social media obsessive, gangly, spotty stage. I want her to obsess about taking the perfect selfie less and more about her own worth and happiness. We were talking about the upcoming Winter Olympics and of course women in sport and all we could think of were famous female ice-skaters. We couldn’t name a single skier, freestyler or boarder! I was a bit shocked at my own lack of knowledge so I decided to remedy it.
I did some research and found that there is no shortage of stories about women achieving incredible things in the snow. I have shared a few stories below so you too can be inspired. Try to pass on knowledge of at least two of these women to some of the young women around you.
There are plenty of ways to get girls interested and involved in Winter sports – at the most basic level just choose a sportswoman to follow in the 2018 Winter Olympics. If you have more time and money go for a day to your local dry slope to try one of these challenging sports, consider a family Winter sports holiday or even pack your girls off to a girls only ski camp. Due to all the clothing, goggles and hats you have to wear your girls won’t have to worry about what they look like, they can be challenged, inspired and grow in so many ways.
Lindsey Vonn, USA
Lindsey Vonn is arguably one of the best female alpine skiers the world has ever seen, smashing record after record on the slopes. Holding the all-time record for female world cup race wins, Vonn is one of only two female skiers to win four World Cup Championships and also has two Olympic medals in her arsenal; a gold in Downhill and a bronze in Super-G at the 2010 Vancouver games. Last season, she won her 20th Crystal Globe (the sports world cup), a feat that has never before been achieved by a skier, male or female.
However, she is no stranger to injury and Vonn’s determination to succeed and push on, even after career-threatening setbacks, is admirable. One of these setbacks occurred after an incredible few years on the top of her game between 2006 and 2013. In the first race of the 2013 World Championships, Vonn suffered a bad crash which led to her having to be airlifted to hospital. She was unable to compete in the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games, yet dealt with her situation with exceptional positivity and mental strength. Lindsey returned to the World Cup circuit in 2015 with a renewed determination to get back to her best and continue breaking records.
She has certainly done so, claiming an incredible 78th world cup race win just this week (December 2017). The previous female record was 62 race wins and with this latest victory, she is closing in on the male record of 86. Passionate about female empowerment, she has also set up the Lindsey Vonn Foundation to engage with future generations of girls, helping them to grow and develop, to achieve their dreams. Indeed, if there is anyone who knows about what it takes to achieve your dreams, it’s Lindsey Vonn. Subject to remining injury free she will be competing in the 2018 Winter Olympics. Go Lindsey!
Nigerian Women’s Bobsleigh Team
Driver Seun Adigun and brakewomen Akuoma Omeoga and Ngozi Onwumere look set to qualify for the Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang 2018 and become the first ever Nigerian athletes to represent their country in a Winter Olympic event.
While official qualification will not be confirmed until January, it’s looking good for the Nigerian team, who have already achieved the qualifying standard. Now, in order to definitively qualify for the Games, the Nigerian team must be ranked within the world top 40 by January 14th 2018, which (touch wood) seems likely based on past rankings.
If they do qualify, these ladies will become the first African team, male or female, to qualify for the Bobsled event at a Winter Olympic Games. All three women have worked incredibly hard, remaining highly motivated and full of self-belief when all the odds were stacked against them. Beginning their training with a handmade wooden sled, they have worked hard to turn an almost unbelievable dream into a reality.
Through crowdfunding website GoFundMe, the team have raised an incredible $75,000 to cover the costs of their Olympic bid. A testament to their passion and perseverance, this has allowed them to purchase their own sled and finance their qualifying campaign. Official qualification in January would be an amazing way to continue their story.
Lynsey Dyer, USA
Lynsey is a freestyler and big mountain skier, she was the first female to be on the cover of Freeskier Magazine due to a fantastic competitive season in 2010/2011. She has been a vocal and innovative voice for women in competitive sport. She founded http://www.shejumps.org/ to promote the participation of women and girls in outdoor activities. She was frustrated that despite women forming over 40% of the skiing public they were rarely portrayed as competitive and talented skiers. So she Kickstarter funded, produced and appeared in the film ‘Pretty Faces’ in which the world’s top skiers are portrayed doing tough difficult and sometimes dangerous things. The film is highly rated and critically acclaimed – it would make a good stocking filler for that special teenaged princess in your life.
“Pretty Faces are everywhere. On billboards, in magazines and on television. Luring us in, telling us who to be, how to act and what to aspire to. The faces that we seek are similar. They lure us in, tell us who to be and make us who we are. The difference is, the pretty faces that we seek are above 5,000 feet.” – Lynsey Dyer
One of Team GB’s top women to watch in PyeongChang, 20-year-old Katie Ormerod is hoping to compete in the snowboard Big Air and Slopestyle events. If her record is anything to go by, she won’t just be competing, she will also be seriously challenging for those podium spots.
Growing up, Katie spent a lot of time at her local dry slope in Halifax. She is proof to all aspiring winter athletes that you don’t have to grow up near the mountains to be able to challenge on the international stage.
This is Katie’s second shot at the Olympics; she narrowly missed out on qualifying for Sochi 2014, studying for her school exams while training for Olympic qualification. She did not let this deter her and has upped her game since then, developing her skills and her attitude to really get to the top of her game for this year’s Winter Olympics.
What makes Katie Ormerod such a great role model is this determination and self-belief, a belief that has led her to attempt things that no female boarder has done before. In 2014, Ormerod became the first female boarder ever to land a double cork 1080, a feat that took an incredible amount of practice and perseverance. She proves that if you keep trying, you can achieve your dreams.
Hailed as one of Team GB’s hardest working athletes, Katie always gives 100% to try and achieve the best of her potential. Her season has gotten off to a fantastic start this year, with a win in the Big Air competition in Milan, so she is definitely a good athlete to follow during the Winter Olympics.
Sarah Burke, Canada
Sarah was a pioneering freestyle skier – a sport dedicated to aerial sins, flips and tricks. She was a four-time Winter X Games gold medalist. She was the first woman ever to land a jump with 720, 900 and 1080-degree rotation in competition. She campaigned tirelessly for women to be included in competitive freestyle events including the Olympic games – with great success. Guess what – Sarah competed and won against the men as there were no sex splits in the sport when it began so if you find yourself in a discussion about how women are too weak to even go head to head with the guys – this is the lady to mention. Sadly, on January 10, 2012 she had a serious training accident and she died from her injuries 7 days later. She was 29.
Red bull have made a real effort to showcase female athletes and extreme sportswomen. Their website has a section dedicated to them and you search by nationality or sport. https://www.redbull.com/
About InTheSnow Magazine
InTheSnow Magazine is the only free Winter Sports News Magazine in the UK. Edited by world renown ski journalist and ‘Snowhunter’ Patrick Thorne, 40-50,000 copies are signed for and distributed by 700 locations across 10 countries and 15 ski resorts worldwide. You can sign up online to receive the magazine weekly – for free! The magazine are great supporters of UK sportswomen and provide plenty of updates on their progress, training, competitions and results. In The Snow are currently working on a section targeted at female ski and snow enthusiasts – it won’t be focusing on fashion!