In celebration of International Women’s Day this week, we researched some awesome female icons in the world of Winter Sports. These incredible women, dating back to the 1800’s, set the standards in all female mountain sports, ranging from; Mountain Climbing, Figure Skating, Alpine Ski Racing, Back Country Skiing and Freestyle.
In honour of International Women’s Day, here are 10 inspirational role models, giving Girl Power with an Alpine touch.
1. Marie Paradis and Henriette d’Angeville
Marie Paradis was the first female to climb the famous Mont Blanc in 1808, during this time Chamonix was still under the reign of the Kingdom of Sardinia. This history changing female, succeeded the climb alongside mountain guide Jacques Balmat. The quirky fact in this story was the fashion… Marie Paradis did the whole thing in a dress! Thirty years later, Henriette d’Angeville was the second woman in history to climb Mont Blanc in 1883.
2. Sonja Henie
In 1924, the Winter Olympics was launched, women were only allowed to compete in one category – Figure Skating. At the young age of just 11 years old, Sonja Henie of Norway, competed alongside 13 other female competitors. In the 1928 Winter Olympics, Sonja went on to win Gold and in total won 3 Gold Medals over her Olympic career. There was controversy at the time around the length of her skirt, shorter than other competitors due to her age and size it was frowned upon. However, it is believed that a shorter skirt allowed her to incorporate more movement into her routine, such as spins and jumps. As a result, this iconic moment took Figure Skating to a new level with new attire!
3. Christl Cranz
In 1936, the Winter Olympics was transformed with a new sport for females to take part in… Alpine Skiing: Alpine Combined (Slalom and Giant Slalom).
Christl Cranz of Germany was the first female to win a Gold Medal. This was the year for female competitors with over 500 women taking part. Christl Cranz then went on to win 13 World Championship titles.
4. Marielle Goitschel
This French female was originally born in Sainte-Maxine, however, moved to Val d’isere at a young age. The Goitschel family are well known for their talents in Alpine Ski racing, making it no surprise that Marielle became the second woman after Christl Cranz to win 11 World Championship medals in Alpine Ski Racing. To this day the Goitschel family are still based in the French Alps and have ski shops named after them in the resort of Val Thorens.
5. Janica Kostelic
Born in Croatia, Janica came from humble beginnings, during her European tour funding for accommodation was not available, so she and her family slept in a tent or their car during her competitions. Janica’s determination and drive to succeed landed her 4 Olympic Gold Medals. She is the only woman to have ever won 3 Gold Medals in one Winter Olympics (2002).
6. Julia Mancuso
World renowned American ski racer Julia Mancuso is a woman who never gives up, she is said to be one of the best female Alpine Ski Racers in the world. After 7 World Cup wins in Alpine Ski Racing, standing tall on the podium in 5 World Championships, winning 3 Olympic medals including GOLD in Giant Slalom in 2006, this lady knows how to win a ski race or two. Despite a hectic ski schedule she still finds time to enjoy surfing and paddling in Hawaii and is an ambassador for the High Fives Foundation supporting injured athletes.
7. Kelly Clark
This snowboarding role model has achieved the top of her game in Freestyle Snowboarding specialising in Half Pipe. She has had over 70 career wins – more than any Man or Woman. She is a 4 time Olympian and 3 time Medallist, wining Gold in the 2002 Winter Olympics Half Pipe. Kelly now focuses on her foundation, set up in 2010, her company motto is “Success starts with an opportunity to follow your dreams” and she is enabling young aspiring snowboarders to do just that.
8. Linsey Vonn
Possibly one of the most famous Female Alpine Skiers of this era, Lindsey Vonn is always making headlines. Vonn has just been granted the title of “most successful women’s skier of all time” by the Olympic organisation, after beating the World Record for 63 FIS World Cup victories which hasn’t been achieved since 1970’s by Austria’s Annemarie Moser-Pröll’s. Olympic Gold Medallist, and one of only 2 females to win the overall World Cup Championships, there really isn’t much this lady won’t do to succeed. She was awarded “Sports Woman of the year” at the Laureus World Sports Awards 2010 and despite her fair share of struggles due to injury has maintained her competitive drive and inspiring women.
9. Sarah Burke
This Canadian champion put Women’s Freestyle Skiing on the map. She campaigned for Freestyle Skiing to be in the 2014 Winter Olympics and succeeded in her cause. Four time Winter X Games Gold Medallist and World Championship skier in Half Pipe, Sarah Burke inspired thousands of women of all ages to follow their passion. Tragically Sarah Burke died during training in 2012. This devastating loss hit the Freestyle community hard, however, her legacy lives on inspiring females to take Freestyle skiing to another level. Lyndsey Dyer a creative film maker and famous Back Country skier dedicated her all female “Pretty Faces” ski film to Sarah Burke, this is a must see film for anyone who loves mountains, skiing and Girl Power.
10. Kelly Sildaru
The most recent female on our radar, Kelly Sildaru is a 14 year old Freestyle skier from Estonia. Competing in Slopestyle, Sildaru is the youngest female to win a Gold medal in the 2017 Aspen Winter X Games. If that wasn’t enough she then continued being the first female to win 2 prizes at the X Games landing a Silver medal in Big Air. This talented teenager is one to watch for future Winter Olympics.
These inspiring women have excelled in the sport they love, and have motivated us to go out and challenge ourselves on the piste. This week we are very proud to announce that out of the 11 Alpine Action female staff that participated in the “Sheride Sessions, Slope Style competition” in Meribel’s Elements Park, 8 won prizes! Congratulations ladies representing International Women’s Day and Alpine Action.