by Chris Dornan
March 27, 2014, CANMORE, Alta. (ISN) — Chandra Crawford will transition from focusing on her own sport abilities to inspiring thousands of Canadian girls to get hooked on a healthy, active lifestyle.
After racing the top athletes on the planet on the World Cup circuit for more than one decade, which included appearances at three junior and four senior World Championships, the three-time Olympian has decided to retire.
Crawford will now switch her career focus to completing a business and leadership education to provide her with the skillset required to successfully run the national Fast and Female program she spearheaded in advance of shocking the world with her Olympic victory in 2006.
“Since graduating from high school in 2000, I have completely dedicated my life to achieving excellence in cross-country skiing,” said Crawford. “Today marks the end of an incredible chapter in my life, but also opens the door for me to focus the next stage of my career on running Fast and Female and encouraging the positive culture around girls and sport. We can all work together to move females social values from a narrow view of approved physical appearance to a meaningful view as creative contributors to the world.”
Crawford, of Canmore, Alta., made the announcement minutes before leading a group of young Alberta girls through a Fast and Female Champ Camp where her illustrious career began at the Canmore Nordic Centre just minutes from the house she grew up in.
Crawford, now 30, was four years old when the 1988 Olympic cross-country ski races were held at the Canmore Nordic Centre – the same venue where her own dream was born after discovering an immense passion for gliding on snow and pushing her limits.
“The Canmore Nordic Centre is such a special place for me. It is where I took my first steps on skis and hosted my first World Cup victory,” said Crawford, who had two victories, one silver, and four bronze-medal finishes on the World Cup. “It was my playground, the heart of the community and I will never forget standing on top of the World Cup podium there. I owe everything to this Olympic legacy, and couldn’t think of a better place to end my career than here – surrounded by friends, family and kids sharing my passion for sport.”
It was her first trip to the golden step of the international podium that Canadians still talk about. At just 22 years old, the World Cup rookie surprised the world by winning the skate-ski sprint race at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games. She will be most remembered for belting out “Oh Canada” on top of the Olympic podium in Torino.
“Chandra has been an inspiration to countless athletes and thousands of children in every corner of this country,” said Davin MacIntosh, executive director, Cross Country Canada. “She is proof anything is possible with big goals, determination, and a relentless work ethic. She has been a class act, and I know she will be extremely successful in the next stage of her career.”
Crawford is poised to do just that. She created “Fast and Female” – her organization dedicated to empowering women through sport in 2005, which has grown to impact more than 2,000 girls annually across Canada.
“Fast and Female expresses the values I have drawn on as an Olympian – resilience, confidence, positivity and leadership,” said Crawford. “We are in need of immediate and sustained effort to increase the health of all kids, and impact the self-confidence of girls. Empowerment through sport is working to do this.
Crawford will begin working full-time on the initiative immediately.
“It has been a tremendous privilege to work with incredible teammates, coaches and the huge support staff that have poured their hearts into this wild journey of mine,” said Crawford. “But I am completely at peace as I say good-bye to competitive racing. I am going to acquire the necessary leadership and business skills required to successfully operate Fast and Female, and do my part to give back to the sport that has been my life.”
Cross Country Canada is the governing body of cross-country skiing in Canada, which is the nation’s optimal winter sport and recreational activity with more than one million Canadians participating annually. Its 58,000 members include athletes, coaches, officials and skiers of all ages and abilities, including those on Canada’s National Ski Teams and Para-Nordic Ski Teams. With the support of its valued corporate partners – Haywood Securities Inc., AltaGas,. Canadian Pacific and Statoil – along with the Government of Canada, Canadian Olympic Committee, Canadian Paralympic Committee and Own the Podium, Cross Country Canada develops Olympic, Paralympic and world champions. For more information on Cross Country Canada, please visit us at www.cccski.com.