This month, the Women’s Sports Foundation announced its 2015 Grant Recipients, a list that includes a great deal of faces from the US Nordic Scene (also, me). Also this month, Glamour Magazine (from whom I stole this story idea) announced its annual women of the year, which included the entire US Women’s Soccer Team, Misty Copeland and Caitlyn Jenner. Today, we have female CEOs, politicians and activists who attribute their success to their participation in sport, while the work of multiple organizations, athletes and mentors has made athletics accessible and sustainable for women and girls all around the world.
As a female athlete, I’m respected for the work that I do and the person who I am, a simple expectation that didn’t exist for women in sport 30 (even 10) years ago. Now is an incredibly exciting time to be a female athlete, especially in a sport like cross-country skiing, which is much more egalitarian than most (we race on the same day, same venue, same course[ish] with the same compensation as men. Revolutionary!). Despite as much, there are still 1.3 fewer opportunities for women to proceed in sport through high school, a number that dwindles as outstanding individuals and groups prove how valuable athletics are for women.
Those individuals are why I’m still in sport today and why I want to keep more girls in it tomorrow. I’d just like to take a moment to celebrate these women (I had to stop at 10, which was difficult). If you have additions of your own, please share them in the comments section, or wherever else you desire!
- Chandra Crawford
Olympic Gold Medalist, Fast and Female Founder
Chandra has made it her life’s mission to teach women and girls that the terms “fast” and “female” are not mutually exclusive. That simple idea has exploded into a network or women celebrating what it means to engage, and stay, in sport.
- Lindsey Van
First FIS Women’s Ski Jumping World Champion
Lindsey has never been afraid to jump into a crowd and stand up for herself and her teammates. She led the charge for women’s ski jumping to be an Olympic event and has set the stage for young jumpers to attain equality in the sport world wide. She also used to babysit me, which is neat.
- The Women of SMS T2
Olympians, sports advocates, pals
Nothing is more inspiring that being surrounded by passionate, smart, energetic women with enough gumption to push themselves and everyone around them to be better. My teammates represent the kind of supportive, competitive, playful spirit that makes being a woman in sport rewarding.
- Wendy Wagner
2x Olympian, US Ski Team Alumna
Wendy Wagner was the first professional cross country skier I ever met, which also makes her the first female professional skier I ever met, which ALSO makes her the first person to introduce to me the concept that I could ski as a career. She also introduced to me the culture of giving back that matters so much to athletics, as we met when I was 10 years old at a clinic she hosted for my local ski club.
- Sadie Bjornsen
Sochi Olympian, US Ski Team Member, PNSA Alumna
Coming from the Pacific Northwest, Sadie taught me that it doesn’t matter how big your region is, it’s how you use it. Sadie set the example for me as a junior for what it meant to train hard, anywhere you can, and enjoy every bit of the process along the way. She also totally gets the importance of a perfect race braid.
- Tina Fey
Comedian, writer, actress, BOSS
At 18 years old, I read and watched Tina Fey for the first time and thought, “She’s smart, funny, kicking ass and leading in a group of men. I want that, too.” Influence is not industry-specific.
- Liz Stephen
US Ski Team member, 2x Olympian
At the Fast and Female event I mentioned above, I asked Liz to sign my t-shirt, to which she responded, “Only if you sign mine first, dude.” She is the ultimate team motivator, taking her successes and making them ours, remembering the name of every junior she’s ever met and reminding them that they are just as important, have just as much potential, as a world cup skier–they just have to go for it. As a kid I’d always wanted to be important enough to be asked for my signature, and one of my heroes fulfilled that wish.
- Lynsey Dyer
Freestyle and big mountain skier, Founder SheJumps
Here’s a challenge: Watch Pretty Faces and try to go 24 hours without calling all of your friends and planning a ridiculous outdoor adventure. It’s impossible, I’ve tried. That’s the kind of community that Dyer has created through SheJumps, an organization with the simple mission of getting women outside. She’s also an incredible skier, with a competitive #squad to match.
- Ashley McQueen Knox
SVSEF junior coach, backcountry skier, mother
I was 17 when I got my first female coach (WHAT?!), and she was a great one. Ash managed to take a group of self conscious adolescent girls and turn them into a group of climbers, skiers, bikers and adventurers, simply by leading by example. Hers is the kind of leadership that we need more of to keep women in sport, hers is still the example I follow.
- Valerie Logsdon
Doctor, philosopher, women’s rights advocate and MY MOM
1970s ideology kept my mom from running longer than 400 meters in high school track (people believed anything longer ruins women’s reproductive systems…oops). She went on to become a first generation college student, and pay her way through PT and med school (which in the pre Title IX South didn’t provide much female company). As a physical therapist, she was one of the first women allowed to enter a men’s football locker room. As a med student, she encountered rampant sexism in orthopedics before switching to obstetrics and gynecology, where she advocated for women’s health equality and raising a kid to believe that she could do anything, anywhere, with anyone, with the right amount of support and motivation.Yeah. I have some pretty good role models. -AP