This past ski season was my first year as a Junior Woman and the one thing that was really different compared to my old racing categories (Juvenile/Junior Girls) was the huge drop in numbers.
As a kid, “Will there be any girls to race against?” was never a question because having people to race against was a given. As a Midget, showing up to the start line with 25+ girls racing was normal, so when I moved up to Juvenile and started racing on the Quebec circuit there were a lot of us! As a Juvenile in Quebec we had up to 49 girls racing in our category; in Junior B we lost over half the field, and in first year Junior A the competition was split in half again. In three years we lost around 6/7 of our category and this is just in Quebec. Although we have more skiing retention than other provinces in Canada we are still struggling to keep girls skiing. I, for one, love skiing and I love to compete and race hard against girls who enjoy the sport as much as I do. But if most of us quit, then how will those remaining keep improving when there are not enough of us to push each other to international success?
This reality has really worried me, so I decided we had to start doing something about it. The result of my reflection was that if I could get the Quebec girls together to try to build a community, it would remind each of us that, although we may be the only girl our age at each of our respective clubs still training, there are indeed other girls our age out there training as hard as we are. So, I thought, why not start some sort of training camp where girls in Quebec can train together over a weekend and get to know each other? With the help of others I put together a tester camp that happened last weekend! We didn’t get a lot of people out, but it was still super nice to have other girls to train with and talk about goals/plans for the up coming season. It would be great to continue this in years to come with hopes of building a fun, motivated environment for women in skiing and a solid platform for high performance skiing in Quebec.