Let’s Hear It For the Girls: celebrating our awesome mountain ladies on International Women’s Day
Women rock it on the mountain – and the great thing about being involved in the ski & snowboard industry since the 90’s means we can see the positive changes happening year on year.
Each year we see more and more ladies taking part in instructor training courses and teaching out on the slopes! This International Women’s Day we take a look at some incredible female skiers and snowboarders and thank them for inspiring the next generation.
The Jenny Jones Effect took the UK by storm in 2014. Jones reaching the podium at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games catapulted snowboarding into the limelight and saw demand for snowboard lessons at UK indoor slopes soar. Achieving a bronze medal in the Snowboarding Slopestyle went down in history as Britain’s first ever on-snow medal at a winter games. Anyone who watched the event could see how much of a big deal Jones’ achievement was – and who can forget the legendary commentary from Ed Leigh, Tim Warwood and Aimee Fuller, all of whom were crying when third place was confirmed.
Jones didn’t start snowboarding until 17, and spent a season as a chalet host before focussing hard on snowboarding success. With most winter olympian’s being born and raised on the mountain, Jenny Jones has inspired youngsters from urban areas that it is never too late to take up snowboarding – and proving it’s not all about being on a board by age 3. In addition to her olympic bronze medal, Jenny Jones is also a 3 times X Games gold medallist.
A pioneer of the superpipe, Sarah Burke was a Canadian freestyle skier who won the X Games four times and was the first halfpipe world champion at the 2005 FIS Freestyle World Ski Championships. Due to Burke’s efforts, halfpipe was added to the 2014 Winter Olympic Programme for the first time and she was considered a favourite to medal in the event, but sadly Burke died following an incident during training in 2012.
Sarah Burke spent her career pioneering halfpipe skiing – often competing against male skiers due to a lack of females in the sport. Burke’s legacy includes successfully lobbying ESPN to include a division for women skiers at the X Games and also lobbying the International Olympic Committee to include half pipe at the winter olympics. Sarah Burke’s drive and ambition saw her as the first woman to ever land a 1080 in competition and her service to the ski halfpipe saw her posthumously inducted to the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame in June 2012.
Since her death The Sarah Burke Foundation has been established to continue her legacy by acting as a Scholarship Foundation for athletes and also donating to organisations Sarah supported during her lifetime. The foundation aims to preserve Sarah’s goodwill and philanthropic nature.
Kelly Clark is one of the most decorated female snowboarders of all time, and her awe-inspiring career has seen the standard for female snowboarding halfpipe set and re-set several times. Clark was the first female snowboarder to ever land a 1080 in competition and is a snowboarding hero, her medals include 1 Winter Olympic Gold, 2 Winter Olympic Bronze, 15 X Games Superpipe appearances (9 Gold, 3 Silver and 1 Bronze) and becoming 3 time World Snowboard Tour Halfpipe World Champion.
In addition to being a snowboarding super-force, Clark has started the Kelly Clark Foundation to enable her to give back to the snowboarding community. The Kelly Clark Foundation provides youths with resources and opportunities to achieve their highest potential through snowboarding. Clark believes that success starts with opportunity, so has used her platform to secure funding to provide scholarships for talented athletes who may not be able to afford to pursue their snowboarding dreams otherwise.
In January 2019 Kelly Clark announced her retirement from snowboarding – we’re sure her passion will remain and work will continue to inspire women in the sport behind the scenes.
An alpine skier competing in Giant Slalom, Kelly Gallagher inspired the nation that anyone can dream to ski when she won gold at the 2014 Winter Paralympics. The 2014 games saw two firsts from Gallagher – the first ever Northern Irish skier to compete in a Winter Paralympics and winner of Britain’s first ever Winter Paralympic gold medal.
During the 2017 World Alpine Para Skiing Championships Gallagher dislocated her elbow and broke some ribs during training, this meant she was unable to compete. Despite her injuries and losing time during training Kelly Gallagher was still able to compete in the 2018 Paralympics.
Gallagher has visual impairment caused by Oculocutaneous albinism and competes with a sighted guide, Charlotte Evans. Following their success at Sochi 2014, Gallagher voiced her delight at having had so much support, and hoped the historical moment for British Paralympic sport would see more disabled skiers on the mountain. Due to her achievements and being an advocate for winter sport, Gallagher has been awarded an MBE for her services to sport for people with visual impairment.
Cross-country skier and six time Olympic champion, Marit Bjørgen, is the most medaled female Winter Olympian of all time. Bjørgen’s success at the 2018 Pyeongchang olympic games has brought her medal total to 15 – the most of any man or woman in Winter Olympic history!
In addition to this, Bjørgen has over 100 individual victories in cross-country skiing. Bjørgen took a break from the sport to have a baby after Sochi 2014. Upon returning to the world championships in February 2017, Bjørgen once again secured the World Championship Gold Medal – meaning she has won this title 16 times!
The Norwegian is a incredible example of how hard work and dedication can pay off, excelling classic and skate style skiing, Bjørgen is a heroine in Norway. Her recent success has given Bjørgen the record for most gold medals won by a cross-country skier in world championship history – male or female!
Nancy Greene Raine
As Canada’s Female Athlete of the 20th Century and Sun Peaks Resort director of skiing, Nancy Greene holds a special place in our hearts here at Winter Sports Company. Greene is an alpine skier who won Olympic Gold in the giant slalom in 1968 and since retiring from competitive ski racing, has dedicated her life to Canadian Sport and is an inspiration to generation after generation of skiers.
Nancy Greene has been honoured with a number of awards, including having her name engraved in Canada’s Walk of Fame and being awarded Canada’s highest civilian honour, the Order of Canada.
In addition to her skiing success, Greene held a seat in the Canadian Senate from 2009 until her retirement in 2018.