Any way you look at it, Canadian women have dominated sports headlines in this country this year.
in an arena where the "old boys" are usually at the forefront to the
exclusion of what the girls do, that's encouraging news indeed.
think of it, Rosie MacLennan won the only Canadian gold medal at the
Olympics in London and she was the only one who performed to the peak of
her ability at the appointed hour.
Christine Nesbitt is the most consistent speedskater on the planet, male or female, and she is having another incredible season
Nesbitt has won six World Cup medals already, including four gold, and
one wonders what she'll have to do to bear serious consideration as our
Kaillie Humphries is absolutely killing it
on the World Cup bobsleigh circuit. Including the World championship
won last season in Lake Placid, she has scored eight international wins
in a row. That is an unprecedented run of success in the annals of
And Humphries understands that her
achievements have a power beyond the tracks she races on. They are
making aspiring athletes take notice.
"I have a voice now,"
Humphries said from her home in Calgary where she is enjoying a brief
holiday break. "I want to use it in a positive way for young people who
want to get involved in sport."
She points to the late Sarah Burke, who revolutionized freestyle skiing
and Lindsey Vonn, who is leading the charge on the alpine front, as
being shining examples of what is possible for women in sport in
"They both have, at times, pushed the boundaries and
that is inspirational to me." Humphries said. "And if those two women
can do it, then so can I."
She pointedly said that one of her
priorities is to be an advocate for a four-person women's bobsleigh
competition in the Olympics in the near future (currently there is only a
two-person event for women).
"I think it will bring our sport
into the proper spotlight," Humphries said. "It may not happen in my
competitive lifespan but I will push for it hard."
And so she should. It's because women have every right to look forward to gender equity on the international stage of sport.Outstanding role models
At the Olympics in London only two traditional Canadian teams made the cut.
feisty women's basketball team under the guidance of revered coach
Allison McNeill made it all the way to the quarter-finals and very
Meantime, it was the national women's soccer team
that produced a bronze medal, the first by a Canadian team at a summer
Olympics since the men's basketball squad took silver way back in 1936
More importantly, the Canadian soccer women captured
the country's imagination with their exploits and fashioned an iconic
and lasting sporting moment for the national folklore.
The team's captain and superstar Christine Sinclair is the hands-down choice as Canada's athlete of the year
. She ran the table of all the year-end awards.
of these female athletes are outstanding role models for young women
who are thinking about playing sport, and it is truly significant that
in an accepting country like Canada they have garnered the lion's share
of the headlines this year.
"We're quite happy as a Canadian
public to accept and celebrate women doing well in sport and that's a
great first step," said Karin Lofstrom, the Executive Director of CAAWS,
(Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport and
But Lofstrom went on to point out that the
current role models are sorely needed because the fact remains girls
tend to drop out of competitive sport at an earlier age than boys do in
That, it seems to me, is a real shame because this
year Canadian women created something to be truly proud of and the hope
would be that its effect would be lasting.
"Let's continue to
ride the wave so that it's not only at Olympic time that we notice women
doing well but throughout the seasons of sport," Lofstrom urged. "And
then take the next step which is to elevate more women into coaching and
managerial roles where their influence can resonate."
without question, a wonderful year for women in Canadian sport. In every
way, this last 12-month period proved that females deserve to be
celebrated by all the fans and on every field of play.This Saturday on Sports Weekend
This week, Sports Weekend features alpine and cross-country skiing beginning at 3 p.m. ET on Saturday.
off is the women's slalom from Are, Sweden, where Slovenian star Tina
Maze continues to chase the overall World Cup title. Scott Oake and
Olympic champion Kerrin Lee-Gartner have the call.
followed by the skiathlon for men and women at Canmore, Alta. Steve
Armitage and Jack Sasseville have play-by-play while Andi Petrillo works
the mixed zone and gets reaction from skiers.
The men's slalom
from Madonna di Campiglio is our last event of the day but we'll also
include a Big Picture feature on the amazing Kaillie Humphries of
Calgary, who has fashioned international bobsleigh history with her
eight consecutive international wins.
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