Chandra Crawford - Ski Champion
Canmore, Alberta lies approximately 130km west of Calgary, in the foothills of the rocky mountains. Canmore is lorded over by towering peaks and is a true outdoor paradise - you can paddle, climb, run, hike, scramble and ski to your heart’s content. Banners in the town have pictures of outdoor activities on them, and there are enormous murals of bikers and skiers on the walls of shops and outside buildings. People drive down the streets in cars loaded with bikes, boats and skis, and everywhere you look there are people exercising in the outdoors. Canmore also has some of the best cross country skiing in the country. It is home to the Canmore Nordic Centre, the Olympic venue for cross country skiing in the 1988 Calgary Olympics, and the host of many international competitions held since.
Chandra Crawford was born and raised in Canmore so it’s not suprising that she developed a love for skiing, hiking, biking and playing the mountains. She also has an intense competitive spirit and was competing in running, swimming, mountain biking, cross country skiing and biathlon by the age of 12. She competed in biathlon for 5 years but switched to cross country skiing full time at 16, leading to a surprise result in the World Junior Cross Country Si Championships that were held in Canmore. This entered Chandra into the world of cross country skiing, where she has been competing ever since.Chandra is a sprint specialist and won several competitions and represented Canada at a variety of events all over the world. Although she was demoted to the National B team in the training season leading up to the 2002 Olympics, she worked extremely hard and managed to qualify for the Games at the last possible opportunity. She then qualified for the World Cup season in 2005-6, won a bronze medal at the World Cup in Davos, Switzerland, then capped it off with an Olympic gold medal in Torino in 2006.
The national cross country ski team is based in Canmore, and Chandra has always felt a strong support from her community. She is also strongly supported by her family and her boyfriend, Devon Kershaw. She is a well known name all over Canada, winning the hearts of Canadians particularly after she stepped onto the winner’s podium in Torino and proudly belted out the national anthem as loud as she could (video here).
Chandra has an exuberance and enthusiasm that not only endears her to the Canadian public, but also allows her to inspire young girls involved in sport. In 2005 she and her team mates started an organisation called Fast and Female, which is dedicated to ‘Empowerment Through Sport’. The two goals of Fast and Female are 1. Spread the Love, and 2. Dominate the World! In order to achieve these goals, Fast and Female organises participation based ski days for girls which involve cross country skiing, biathlon and an exciting downhill technique session. The days are a celebration of sport that helps girls to feel more confident and inspired to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle.
Chandra says that she was lucky to have role models in skiers Beckie Scott and Sara Renner, as well as many opportunities to pursue her sport. She is committed to the future of the sport and always makes time to share her passion and enthusiasm for sport with others, hoping to impact the sport system by increasing the participation among girls from the bottom of the system (by organising the ski days) and pulling from the top (by providing inspiring role models). This is, of course, the reasoning behind the goals of Spreading the Love and Dominating the World. Most of her non-training time is occupied by the organisation, and she hopes that Fast and Female will grow in to a nation-wide program.
Chandra and the rest of Canada are very excited about the upcoming 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia. Chandra is training 11 months of the year alongside her sister Rosanna Crawford who is one of Canada’s top biathletes. Chandra says it’s a dream come true to compete in a home Olympics and is thrilled she will be cheered on by a home crowd. However, Vancouver 2010 also presents a huge challenge for Chandra, because the event she won in 2006 is not the same in 2010. The sprint event will not involve her favourite technique, skate, but will be the first ever Olympic Classic Sprint. She is working hard on improving her classic technique and looking forward to the return of the skate sprint in Russia 2014, as well as training hard for the sprint relay which is a skate event and in which she will be competing with one of her role models, Sara Renner.
When Chandra retires from skiing in 2014 or 2018 she will fully dedicate herself to Fast and Female, encouraging the participation of girls in sport and hopefully growing some more incredible female champions. Be sure to watch out for her in Vancouver 2010, cheer her on and hopefully she will be belting out ‘Oh Canada’ from the winner’s podium again!
All photographs are from Chandra's website, except for the last which is from Fast and Female.
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