Fast and Female’s Northern Youth Empowerment Weekend Presented by First Air Gives Girls Wings

Inge ScheveApril 15, 2011

Norman Wells, NT / Canmore, AB (April 15, 2011) – Fast and Female hosted its second Northern Youth Empowerment Weekend in the Norman Wells, Northwest Territories on April 8, 9, and 10, 2011. A total of 46 female skiers between the ages of 9 to 19 from nine NT communities were joined by six ambassadors, three instructors, nine chaperones and 10 volunteers for this unique weekend aimed at inspiring and motivating aboriginal girls in cross-country skiing. This year’s event had a special focus on encouraging youth participation in the Sahtu region.

More pictures at:!/album.php?fbid=164832993574981&id=116870891704525&aid=36128

Throughout the weekend, participants had the opportunity to get first-hand instructions both on and off snow from former National Ski Team member and Northwest Territories athlete, Sarah Daitch, and 4-time Olympian, Sharon Firth. Biathlon expert Lindsey Bolivar and former NCAA athlete, Claire Rennie, were also on site with other elite instructors to share their wisdom with the girls.

On Friday, participants gathered for a welcome dinner, a team poster making session, and a leadership workshop for the teens. The younger participants enjoyed a gymnastic lesson compliment of NWT Gymnastics Association.

Saturday’s activities focussed on technical cross-country skiing drills, followed by a Zumba dance lesson from Fit 2 the T, and a yoga class. The youth also had a presentation by Olympian Sharon Firth about her journey from the trails of Inuvik to the world stage in cross country skiing.

The weekend-long camp concluded on Sunday with a community ski day and a distance ski challenge to the Norman Wells Ski cabin.

“I learned so many things this weekend,” said Annah Hanthorn, 16 years old. “The camp reminded me how many people have supported me in my sport and helped me learn more on my ski technique. I also learned more yoga moves and even how to Zumba dance. The key ideas I am taking home with me are to encourage others in my sport, to spread the LOVE and to be reminded of the encouraging words I heard from the ambassadors,” she added.

Fast and Female’s programming is intensely focused on working with girls in sports and exposing them to inspiring female athletic role models. In doing so, Fast and Female hopes to increase the retention of girls in sports. As it currently stands, girls are six times more likely to drop out of sports than boys. It is believed that this ratio increases when girls are living in remote communities and face smaller peer groups to support them in their athletic endeavors.

“There is a need for a critical mass of girls to keep the kids skiing together and having fun,” affirmed local event organizer Karen Johnson. “I remember wishing when my girls were in Jackrabbits that enough girls would stay skiing that the kids could flow together into the next level of ski programming. Luckily for me and my girls, that wish has come true.”

“Boys get lots of opportunities to go out for events, but there is very little for girls in the community,” admitted Krista Kerr, a teacher from the Dene community Lutsel K’e. “This event does not require the numbers that team sports do, so it gives girls the chance to participate and travel”.

Jennifer Waterhouse, a teacher from Deline added: “Its always great when the youth in our community get the chance to visit other communities, meet other youth and get exposed to healthy activities. I know the Deline girls had a great time and this weekend has inspired me to build our ski program.”

Thanks to the support of many sponsors, participation to the event was free, including travel, accommodation and food. The small group of participants was selected on the basis of personal merit, motivation and athletic commitment.

In fact, the 2011 Fast and Female Northern Youth Empowerment Weekend was made possible thanks to valuable event-specific partners such as First Air, the Government of the Northwest Territories, the Sahtu Divisional Education Council, the NWT Ski Division, the Colville Lake School Board, the Sport North Federation, the Norman Wells RCMP, the Jokabeca Foundation at The Calgary Foundation, Sorpotimist International, and the Ski North Program. Fast and Female’s national sponsors – including Best Buy, Buff Multifunctional Headwear, Clarins Canada, Cold-FX, and Cross-Country Canada – also provided valuable resources to make this event possible.

“I take great pride in the fact that there are no financial barriers for girls to take part in this event,” added Daitch. “This is especially important for girls from isolated communities. The sponsors who contributed to this event have changed lives and we are greatly thankful for their support.”

Subsequent to this most recent Fast and Female event, the growing organization concludes a busy winter season which saw nine events and a reach of 875 girls across Canada and the United States.

In the coming weeks, Fast and Female will be announcing its event schedule for the Spring and Summer. This information will be released at /.

Fast and Female is a not-for-profit society started in 2005 by Chandra Crawford, the 2006 Olympic gold medalist in cross-country skiing. The organization’s mission is to ensure that girls remain supported, motivated, inspired, empowered to stick to sports and the healthy lifestyle. The young girls who attend Fast and Female events today will lead it in the future, may it be as athletes, coaches, volunteers, parents, and community leaders. For more information about Fast and Female, visit

Inge Scheve

Inge is FasterSkier's international reporter, born and bred in Norway. A cross-country ski racer and mountain runner, she also dabbles on two wheels in the offseason. If it's steep and long, she loves it. Follow her on Twitter: @IngeScheve.

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