WHISTLER, B.C.—Five of Canada’s top female biathletes are set to cross the finish line of an extremely successful nude calendar campaign launched five months ago to celebrate healthy, active women’s bodies, while also generating money to fuel their quest for the international podium.
Through an unwavering commitment of the athletes – Zina Kocher, of Red Deer, Alta.; Sandra Keith, of Calgary; Rosanna Crawford, of Canmore, Alta.; Megan Imrie, of Falcon Lake, Man.; and Megan Tandy, of Prince, George, B.C. – along with an army of generous supporters, a total of 5,000 Bold Beautiful Biathlon calendars were sold at $25 each around the world.
An additional 1,000 calendars were printed in January to meet the international demands. The sharp-shooting Canucks are set to sell the remaining 300 this week at the 2010 Olympic venue near Whistler, B.C. while competing in their first World Cup on home snow since 1998.
“We are extremely grateful for the incredible sponsors who stepped up to champion this project, and the overwhelming support of people around the world who purchased a calendar to help fund our Olympic journey,” said Zina Kocher, the leader of the Canadian Biathlon Team, who in 2006 became the first Canadian to win a World Cup medal since Myriam Bedard did more than a decade ago. “The response far-exceeded our expectations and we are so appreciative.”
Significantly underfunded compared to their international competitors, Kocher and her World Cup mates developed the plan to pose nude together in Bold Beautiful Biathlon to aggressively seek additional funding opportunities. The calendars were sold at www.boldbeautifulbiathlon.com on the Internet, targeted retail outlets across Western Canada, and by each one of the athletes personally as they travelled the world.
“There are so many sponsors, volunteers, retailers, family, friends and members of the Canadian media to thank,” said Megan Tandy,” who starred on the memorable Rick Mercer show with Rosanna Crawford in January to help showcase the calendar which sparked the reprint. “Each person who backed this project will own a piece of our journey to 2010, and we will be forever grateful. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to compete on a level playing field.”
With a goal of targeting financial support from corporate Canada, the five Canadian women turned up the heat on a frigid Calgary morning in late October when they roller skied through the downtown core during noon hour with nothing more than shorts, race bibs for tops, and their traditional biathlon rifles locked on their backs to launch the initiative.
“The financial support we received definitely opens the door to more opportunities for us to pursue excellence in our sport, but it was also an investment in building a new image for young Canadian girls to look up to, and we are very proud of that,” said Sandra Keith.“Contrary to a lot of images young girls are seeing on television and in magazines about the ideal woman’s body, it is a healthy athletic body that we should all be looking to maintain. You don’t need to be a high-performance athlete to be fit, and we hope we helped encourage all women to be proud of their bodies.”
The photos of Keith, Kocher and their teammates were taken by Rachel Boekel and Adrian Marcoux in Canmore, Alta. Each athlete was featured on two pages of the calendar, along with four group photos.
The Canadian biathletes were inspired to take on the project when thinking back to the success two of their Olympic heroes in cross-country skiing, Sara Renner and Beckie Scott, had in raising funds after producing a similar calendar in 2001. Renner and Scott, along with three other teammates, tastefully took their clothes off to also raise the profile of their sport while showing the world cross-country skiers were fit and healthy people.
“An athlete’s livelihood depends on their bodies and I believe athletes should be proud of their bodies. This calendar <Bold Beautiful Biathlon> celebrated strong, athletic women,” said Sara Renner, who will compete in her fourth and final Olympic Winter Games in 2010. “As the mother of a daughter, I would be proud to see pictures of these role models on my child’s wall as opposed to a synthetically enhanced Hollywood star.”
Sales of the calendar took off for Canada’s cross-country ski women, which helped finance their preparations for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City where Beckie Scott became the first North American woman to win an Olympic medal when she won gold in the pursuit race. Scott and Renner later joined forces to win a silver medal in the team relay at the 2006 Olympics.
“A healthy, female body is a beautiful thing and if these girls choose to celebrate it with a calendar, then all the power to them,” said Scott, who also became a mother after retiring in 2006 with 17 World Cup and two Olympic medals. “The unique thing was we created this calendar right on the cusp of our team making huge strides in the sport internationally, and I hope this marks the same trend for the biathlon women. I wish them the very best and give them my full support.”
For more information on the Bold Beautiful Biathlon calendar project, please visit www.boldbeautifulbiathlon.com on the Internet.