Canada’s hockey women make it three golds in a row at Winter Universiade

While the focus of women’s hockey is on the upcoming 2014 Sochi Winter Games, another great moment in women’s hockey and its growth took place in Kazakhstan. The 2013 Winter Universiade (also known as the World Winter University Games) hosted women’s hockey for the third time in its history. Once again, Canada set the standard, claiming the gold medal for the third consecutive time.

Proudly displaying the flag after defeating Russia by a 5-0 score in the gold medal game (Photo credit: Mary Beth Challanor)

Proudly displaying the flag after defeating Russia by a 5-0 score in the gold medal game (Photo credit: Mary Beth Challanor)

Since women’s ice hockey at the Winter Universiade started in 2009, Canada has not just emerged victorious, but has done so in a most dominant fashion. The 2013 gold medal game featured the Russian contingent being defeated by a 5-0 mark by Canada for the second time in the tournament.
As Canadian Interuniversity Sport provides the players for the Winter Universiade, the girls that have suited up comprise a who’s who of women’s hockey. Former senior national team members such as Ann-Sophie Bettez, Cathy Chartrand and Liz Knox have been part of the gold medal efforts. CIS national champions have also donned the Canadian jersey. Kim Deschenes, the captain of the defending champion Montreal Carabins has claimed gold in 2011 and 2013.
Many of the competitors for Canada have also extended their careers in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League. The likes of Alyssa Cecere and Vanessa (Vinny) Davidson, who have won the Clarkson Cup with the CWHL’s Montreal Stars have enjoyed Winter Universiade gold. In addition, Kelsey Webster, the current captain of the CWHL’s Calgary Inferno, not only won the gold in 2009, but played for former Canadian national team head coach Dan Church at York University.

Dating back to the inaugural women’s ice hockey tournament at the Winter Universiade in 2009, Canada’s performance represents a unique chapter in Canadian women’s hockey history. Though sometimes overshadowed by other programs in Hockey Canada, the facts are indisputable. Since 2009, Canada has participated in 21 games, going undefeated. Including all three tournaments, (2009, 2011 and 2013), the Canadian squad boasts an incredible cumulative score of 174-12.
The 2013 edition represented a new best for Canada. Outscoring their opponents by a combined score of 77-2, it is a remarkable improvement on their impressive performance from 2011 when Canadian opponents were outscored by an overwhelming 51-3 margin. Canada also outscored its rivals in 2009 by a convincing 46-7 tally.

Canada set the tone in their first game of the 2013 Winter Universiade. Competing against an inexperienced Spanish team on December 10, the record 21-0 win was part of three consecutive shutouts. On December 12, Russia was blanked by a 5-0 score, while Great Britain was at the losing end of a 13-0 blanking. While the archrival United States snapped the shutout streak in their December 15 tilt, it would prove to be the only goal scored in the game by the squad. The Canadian contingent pummeled the US by a 9-1 tally with Japan as their opponents in the semi-finals.

Former CWHL star Amanda Parkins contributed five points in the 15-0 shutout victory over Japan. Having earned the Rookie of the Year honors in 2013 from Ontario University Athletics, she held the hot hand as Canada prepared to defend its gold medal once again.

The gold medal featured more Canadian dominance as they overwhelmed Russian backstop Anna Prugova. While she played valiantly between the pipes, she was overwhelmed by the number of shots on net. The first frame resulted in Canada outshooting the Russians by a 17-3 margin, while the second stanza resulted in another 21 shots on net. Canadian goaltender Kelly Campbell was hardly tested.

Jenna Smith and Tatiana Rafter would lead all Canadian scorers in the gold medal triumph with three points. Of note, Smith accumulated two goals and one assist while Rafter contributed with a three-point effort. Nine different Canadian skaters would register at least one point while Campbell logged a tournament-best four shutouts.

While the accomplishments of Canada’s CIS heroes at the Winter Universiade may not gain the same level of attention as an IIHF World Championship or Winter Games victory, no one can dispute the record-setting pace upon which they have truly set the gold standard. What they have accomplished is testament to the talent that competes at the CIS level. Having helped carve a legacy in the history of Canadian women’s hockey, the Canadian women of the Winter Universiade are true heroes and role models for the next generation of CIS women’s hockey competitors.

Abbey D’Agostino continues to run into the record books

Competing for the Dartmouth Big Green, Abbey D’Agostino has carved an athletic legacy that makes her one of the greatest athletes, male or female, to compete for the Ivy League school. Running for head coach Mark Cogan, she has established herself as more than just a team captain, but a big sister and a supporter for her teammates.

As the 2012 NCAA Division I champion in the 5000m, she missed a spot on the 2012 US Summer Games team by a mere 0.19 seconds behind Kim Conley. She was two seconds out of third for a spot on the US team for the 2013 World Championships as she was still in contention at the final lap.

While she is still primed for a chance to compete at the 2016 Rio Summer Games, she is only getting better. Working on improving her kick, the ability to improve without the pressure of a Summer Games or World Championships should pay dividends.

In reflecting on her storied NCAA career, it seems that the only thing D’Agostino knows how to do is win. Having won the 2013 Indoor Nationals in the 3000 and 5000m races, she can run the mile in a remarkable 4:30.03. Her indoor title was the first by an Ivy League athlete in 11 years.

Of note, her 5000m title in 2012 marked the first time in 15 years that a Dartmouth track and field athlete earned a national title. Adam Nelson claimed a title in shot put in 1997. In addition, she is the first Dartmouth female track and field athlete to win a national title. She is also the fourth-ever Ivy League track and field competitor to have multiple national championships.

Having won three national titles in 2013 (3000m outdoor and the 5000 m both outdoor and indoor), makes her the first Ivy Leaguer to accomplish such a feat. She is also the first American woman to win the 3000m and 5000m in an NCAA career. With back-to-back titles in the 5000m, it makes her the first runner since Valerie McGovern of Kentucky to achieve the double. Ironically, McGovern also won the 5000m indoor and outdoor in the same year.

Running is certainly in her blood. Her mother Donna was an All-American in college for UMass-Dartmouth and ran the mile in 5:03, while Abbey’s sister Lily is a runner for the University of Connecticut Huskies. Of note, her father Eric competes in triathlons while Donna is still active in marathons.

Ironically, when Abbey was recruited out of high school by Dartmouth coach Maribel Sanchez, she was struggling to break the five-minute mark in the mile with Masconomet Regional High School. Sidelined by mononucleosis one year and an iron deficiency another year, the 5’2” spitfire did not seem to have the make-up of a national champion.

Entering the Dartmouth program in 2010, there certainly were rookie jitters for D’Agostino. With Sanchez pregnant, Cogan entered the picture as the new coach. Having competed at the 1996 Atlanta Summer Games, Cogan showed patience with his freshman runner. Despite increasing her training mileage to 45, ankle woes derailed her season. By the time of her first race in autumn 2010, she finished a disappointing 75th place.

The spring offered reason to believe as Cogan noticed her practice times increasing. Suddenly, a third-place finish at nationals resulted in a personal record of 15:40. It would serve as the springboard for a third-place run at the NCAA Cross Country championships.

Majoring in psychology, the thought process and mental preparation are complementing her skills on the track. The need to stay positive and not get nervous during a race is just as essential as the training required to win a race. As racing leads to significant physical strain, the ability to think positively and not be discouraged cultivates the confidence needed to become a champion.

As the proud owner of four Dartmouth running records (1 mile indoor, DMR, 3000m and 5000m), the list of awards and honors are a mile long. In 2012, she was recognized as the USTFCCCA National Outdoor Track Female Scholar Athlete of the Year along with their Division I Cross Country Female Scholar Athlete of the Year Award.

Dartmouth also recognized her with their prestigious Class of 1976 Award, given to the Top Female Student-Athlete. Earning four First-Team All-America nods for Cross Country, Indoor DMR, Indoor 3000m, Outdoor 5000m, she would also be recognized in 2013 with another remarkable honor. Awarded the 2013 USTFCCA Women’s Division I Track Scholar of the Year for both the indoor and outdoor seasons, teammates applaud her for her humility, team-first approach and friendship.

10 Female Athletes that made an inspiring impact in 2013

In alphabetical order, please find ten female athletes that helped to make a tremendous impact in 2013, while advancing the already amazing world of female sport.

Angella Goran, Cycling

Cycling across Canada in hopes of raising funds for wildlife research, she channeled the spirit of other Canadians who have ventured on the road in similar efforts; Terry Fox, Rick Hansen and Ashley Gilbank. Looking to preserve Canada’s natural legacy while looking to educate and provide various education activities on her stops, Goran is a role model to both men and women who have undertaken environmental causes.

Emma Green-Tregaro, Track and Field

While the 2013 IAAF World Track and Field Championships were a lightning rod for controversy due to issues of gay rights, Emma Green-Tregaro made a remarkable statement. Painting her fingernails in the colors of the rainbow as a gesture of support, it made worldwide news. While she was inititally warned it could be in violation of the code of conduct of the world championships, she stood her ground, inspiring men and women of any sexual preference to stand up for their beliefs.

Brittany Griner, Basketball

From the NCAA to NBA Draft speculation to the WNBA, Brittany Griner made national news on numerous stages. While her NCAA career at Baylor did not end on with a Final Four, she graduated as the all-time leading blocker among both male and female basketball players.

Speculation about the NBA Draft sparked rumors that she would become the first female selected. Although it never materialized, she would go first overall to the Phoenix Mercury in the 2013 WNBA Draft. Her debut against the Chicago Sky (which featured second pick overall Elena Delle Donne) featured two slam dunks, the first player to do so in their WNBA debut.

Sami Grisafe, Football

One of the most inspiring sporting stories of 2013 (among men and women), football quarterback Sami Grisafe finished her storied football career in grand style. Having led the United States to a gold medal at the inaugural 2010 IFAF Women’s World Football Championships, she followed it up as the field general for the US in 2013.

Her world gold would be followed up by a remarkable performance with the Chicago Force in the 2013 WFA postseason. Leading her club to their first-ever WFA National Championship, it was a fitting finish to Grisafe’s stellar career. Tackling the next role in her life, a promising musical career, her performance of the Star-Spangled Banner at the IFAF Worlds and at Wrigley Field are pulse-pounding.

Brooke Henderson, Golf

Only 16 years old, Brooke Henderson may become the Tiger Woods of women’s golf. A teen phenom who was recognized as Canada’s amateur golfer of the year for 2013, she was also featured in Sports Illustrated’s Faces in the Crowd segment. Ranked number nine in the world among amateur female golfers, she would place third at the professional Canadian Women’s Open while placing 35 at the LPGA’s Manulife Classic.

Nikki Johnson, Football

One of the greatest quarterbacks in the history of women’s indoor football, Nikki Johnson used her star power to try and improve working conditions in her league. A former intern with NFL Films and a high school sporting legend in Nevada, her solid work ethic and leadership skills set a positive example for teammate and rival alike.

While her requests for health insurance and a more equitable setting in the league resulted in her untimely dismissal, her efforts are similar to Curt Flood in baseball and Ted Lindsay in hockey. Although she will likely return to the WFA (where she first honed her skills), Johnson is a strong, courageous woman whose principles make her a symbol of admiration and determination.

Hilary Knight, Ice Hockey

While Amanda Kessel had an outstanding 2013, in which she won the Patty Kazmaier Award and led the Minnesota Golden Gophers to an undefeated season, Hilary Knight was playing in the ultra-competitive CWHL against some of Canada’s greatest women’s ice hockey players.

With such sterling competition, Knight not only ranked third in league scoring (first among US-born women), but she would become the first American-born player to capture the CWHL’s MVP Award. She would follow it up by leading all players in postseason scoring as the Blades upset the Montreal Stars to capture the Clarkson Cup. A few weeks later, Knight (and Kessel) would beat Canada on their own home ice to capture gold at the 2013 IIHF Women’s World Hockey Championships. Featured on a trading card in the Topps Sochi Winter Games trading card set, her star is on the rise.

Yekaterina Pashkevich, Ice Hockey

A former women’s tackle football competitor in the IWFL, Yekaterina Pashkevich emerged as the feel-good story of the 2013 IIHF Women’s World Hockey Championships. An original member of the Russian national team from 1993, she lived in Boston for several years after the 2006 Torino Winter Games. Making a comeback in hockey, Pashkevitch would capture the hearts and minds of fans 20 years later. As the oldest competitor at the 2013 IIHF Worlds, her acumen and leadership contributed to an emotional bronze medal for the Russian squad.

Winter Venecki, Running

In honor of her fallen father, Winter Venecki and her mother participated in marathons on every continent in the world. Looking to raise funds for cancer research, Venecki’s journey was one of inspiration and hope. Having established her own cause to raise funds, the teenaged Venecki is a great example of the great contributions youth can make to our society.

Serena Williams, Tennis

In a season that saw Williams amass an outstanding win-loss record of 78-4, she solidified her legacy as the greatest female tennis player ever. Her earnings of over $12,000,000 are the highest-ever in women’s tennis history and the fifth highest among both male and female players.

Honorable Mention: Christmas Abbott, NASCAR

As the first female full-time member of a NASCAR racing crew, Christmas Abbott is shattering barriers in traditionally male-dominated fields. Serving with the Michael Waltrip Racing Team, she is a proud member of Clint Bowyer’s pit crew. Able to change two tires weighting 60 pounds each, she paid her dues changing tires for female racer Jennifer Jo Cobb in years past. When not part of the pit crew, Abbott is also a competitor with Team CrossFitInvoke in the CrossFit Mid-Atlantic region.

Honorable Mention: Julie Paetsch, Football and Ice Hockey

One of the most influential women in Canadian sport for 2013, Julie Paetsch helped make history on two different occasions. Competing on defense with the Saskatoon Valkyries of the Western Women’s Canadian Football League, she returned from an injury in-time for the WWCFL title game. Helping the Valkyries to a victory over the Lethbridge Steel, the Valkyries became the first team to win three consecutive WWCFL titles. Of note, she would earn Defensive Player of the Game honors.

A few weeks later, she would contribute to Canada’s silver medal effort at the 2013 IFAF Women’s Worlds. Recognized as Canada’s Player of the Game in the gold medal match against the United States, it would prove to be the beginning of a memorable summer. In late August, she would be selected by the Calgary Inferno in the 2013 Canadian Women’s Hockey League Draft, becoming the first women’s tackle football player taken in CWHL Draft history. In addition, she would score a goal in her debut for the Inferno.

Honorable Mention: Whitney Zelee, Football

Having helped the Boston Militia to a national championship in 2011, Whitney Zelee has emerged as a key member for the WFA franchise. While she has been working tirelessly to help the squad claim a second, her mark on WFA and women’s football history reached unforeseen heights in 2013. As the first player to log 2,000 yards in one season of women’s football, Zelee became a legend in the sport. With several performances of 300+ yards in several matches, her efforts shed a new light on the excitement of women’s football and the growing relevance of the sport.

Eugenie Bouchard looks to build on breakthrough season in WTA

Only 19 years old, Eugenie Bouchard has a limitless future in the WTA. After becoming the first Canadian ever to win a Grand Slam title in 2012 (a win over Elina Svitolina at the junior Wimbledon), she followed up with her best-ever WTA ranking in 2013, as she climbed to 32.

A member of Tennis Canada’s National Training Centre in Montreal, she also had a world junior ranking of No.2 following her Wimbledon victory. While it seems like she is an overnight sensation, she has paid her dues in the sport since 2005. At the tender age of 15, she captured her first Canadian indoor Under-18 title along with a Pan American Closed ITF championship victory.



Her landmark 2013 reached new heights when she was named the WTA Newcomer of the Year. Only the second Canadian to win the award (Carling Bassett was the first in 1983), she would experience a landmark year. Beginning the year with a world ranking of 144, the native of Westmount, Quebec had a series of strong performances. Including a finals appearance at Osaka and a match at Roland-Garros against Maria Sharapova, she would also post her best performance at Wimbledon, defeating former world no.1 Ana Ivanoic in straight sets on Centre Court.

Also beating Jelena Jankovic, another former number 1, it resulted in an epic season that saw the prodigy make a remarkable climb in the rankings. Moving up an astounding 112 spots, her ranking of 32 makes her Canada’s most remarkable female athlete this year.
Past winners of the award included Martina Hingis, Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams.

Of note, a victory over world-ranked No. 42 Laura Robson at the Family Circle Cup marked her first Top 50 win. Her confidence would only increase with a win over former US Open champion Samantha Stosur.

Sitting on 32, it makes her the world’s highest ranked tonnage players. Careening on the court with a remarkable confidence, she would push Serena Williams to three-sets in a match in Cincinnati before losing. After a strong showing, she made it to the first WTA Singles final event of her career at the HP Open. Stosur would avenge her previous loss by besting her in the final.

Eugenie Bouchard and Madison Keys pose with the Billie Jean King trophy at the WTA 40 Love Celebration during Middle Sunday of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 30, 2013 in London, England. (June 29, 2013 - Source: Julian Finney/Getty Images Europe)

Eugenie Bouchard and Madison Keys pose with the Billie Jean King trophy at the WTA 40 Love Celebration during Middle Sunday of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 30, 2013 in London, England.
(June 29, 2013 – Source: Julian Finney/Getty Images Europe)

Known affectionately as Genie, fans are hoping there is a lot more magic from this tennis prodigy to come in 2014. With strong poise and tremendous confidence for a player who has not yet reached her 20th birthday, she has the potential to become the catalyst towards inspiring more young Canadian women to take up tennis. As Canada has underachieved globally in tennis, Bouchard’s promising career presents hope that Canada can begin a golden era of dominance on the world stage.

Ringette celebrates landmark 50th anniversary with epic 50-hour game

Having provided generations of young girls with the opportunity to compete at the rink before women’s hockey was part of the cultural norm; ringette celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2013. While ringette celebrations were held throughout Canada with charitable events and/or All-Star Games, one celebration earned headliner status, 50-hour game in Bow River, Alberta.


The Indus Recreation Centre served as the backdrop for one of the most historic events in the history of the sport. Organized by the Bow View and Indus Ringette Associations, the 50-hour contest involved players from various parts of the province, including Airdrie, Calgary, Cochrane and Okotoks, to name a few. Accomodating players of all ages, a total of 263 individuals participated in the game.

While the event was meant to celebrate the anniversary of ringette, it also generated attention through social and television media. With free admission to the public and a legion of volunteers donating their time, Global Television brought a film crew to the event. Logistically, challenges included rescheduling league games and ensuring that draws and raffles, which helped to finance the event, were organized. Graeme Allison was the chair of the event committee and prouldy stated to the Calgary Herald that ringette is truly a Canadian game.


Invented by Sam Jacks in North Bay, Ontario, ringette was originally developed with girls in mind. The first-ever game was contested in Espanola, Ontarion as girls used a hockey stick with no blade while attempting to put a rubber ring past a goaltender in order to score a goal. Future Canadian National Women’s Hockey players such as Judy Diduck and Cherie Piper would compete in the sport in their younger years. Of note, Diduck is actually enshrined in the Ringette Hall of Fame.

After the passing of Jacks several years ago, his widow Agnes continued to have a presence in the sport. Up unitl her passing in 2005, she would attend numerous provincial championships along with the national championships held every April. Appropriately, the world championship trophy is named after Jacks with Finland as defending champions.

Pair of remarkable Quebec athletes holds bright future with CIS accolades

With autumn sports having wrapped for another season, Canadian Interuniversity Sport recognized two female athletes from Quebec with significant awards. McGill’s Brianna Miller and Sherbrooke’s Marie-Eve Jacques earned the highest honor one can receive in their respective sport.

Brianna Miller recognized at the CIS national rugby awards

Brianna Miller recognized at the CIS national rugby awards

As the recipient of the CIS Player of the Year in Rugby, Miller beat out other candidates such as fly half Emilie Chiasson (Acadia), fullback Caitlin McNally (Guelph) and back row Miranda Monty (Alberta). In years past, the Player of the Year Award has served as a springboard towards the Canadian National Rugby Team.

Winning the Chantal Navert Memorial Award, it was an emotional moment for Marie-Eve Jacques. As a striker for the University of Sherbrooke, the award had an even greater meaning for Jacques. Of note, Chantal Navert was a former soccer official who was a strong supporter for women’s soccer in Sherbrooke. As the first player for the Sherbrooke Vert & Or to win the award, the historic connection to Navert and her impact in the community is one that will only add to the prestige of the award.


Since rugby became a CIS sport in 1998, Miller is the first player from the RSEQ Conference to garner the award. Majoring in physical education, Miller finished the 2013 season as the leading scorer. Of note, it was the third consecutive season that she obtained the scoring title. Serving as the Martlets team captain, her sparkling 100 point campaign was complemented by a conference-leading 34 conversions (earning a 73.9 percent success rate), four penalty goals and four tries in merely seven games.

Such remarkable productivity represented an astounding 32.3 percent of the McGill Martlets offense. Her efforts paid dividends for the Martlets as they enjoyed a 6-1 record, their finest since 2005. The only RSEQ club that fared better was Concordia (finishing at 7-0) and they were upset by the Martlets in the conference finals.


During the 2013 season, she would also establish herself as the Martlets all-time leading scorer. Setting the new benchmark with 370 points in 26 career regular season tilts, she has one more season of eligibility to add to this impressive number.

Prior to the beginning of the season, she competed with the Canadian team that captured the bronze medal in rugby sevens at the 2013 Summer Universiade. Also earning nods as a CIS All-Canadian, perhaps her most impressive feature is the fact that she is ambidextrous. Able to kick and throw on the right and left, it is very possible that she may be part of the Canadian
contingent when rugby makes its Summer Games debut at Rio 2016.

Having earned the award over fellow nominees Karolyne Blain (PEI), Emily Brown (Wilfrid Laurier) and Julia Ignacio (Alberta), sophomore Marie-Eve Jacques holds the potential to earn the Chantal Navert Memorial Award once again in her CIS career. After a remarkable freshman campaign that saw her lead the Vert & Or to their first CIS National Championship tournament appearance in two decades, there was no sophomore slump in 2013.

Recognized as the 2012 RSEQ Rookie of the Year, she was also named a First-Team RSEQ All-Star in 2013 (her second straight nod). Complemented by a CIS First-Team All-Star selection in 2013, Jacques is clearly the most prodigious soccer in all of CIS play.

During 14 conference matches, Jacques accumulated an astounding 21 goals. Emerging as the conference leader in goals scored, the second-leading scorer only had 10 goals on the season. Having added 11 assists to her numbers, Jacques emerged as the conference scoring champion by a whopping 12 points.


Although the Vert & Or finished second in the RSEQ with a 10-3-1 mark, they were also the highest scoring team in the entire CIS, averaging 3.5 goals per contest. While they could not gain the 2013 CIS National Title, Jacques has a remarkable presence that assures another chance in 2014 or 2015 is highly possible.

Prior to competing at the CIS level, Jacques was a member of the Quebec Provincial Under-16 and Under-18 teams. Competing in the Quebec AAA Senior League in 2011, she captured the Ballon d’Or, awarded to the league leader in goals scored. With such a prolific background, a spot on the Canadian National Team would fulfill more than just great promise, but add a new chapter to a player whose soccer career may be the greatest in the history of Quebec.

Rodeo star Barb “Wicked” West shines in the spotlight as star of TV’s Rodeo Girls

While the new reality TV program Rodeo Girls shining the spotlight on rodeo veterans such as Barb West, it is an opportunity to recognize her as one of the best kept secrets in women’s sports. Once viewers get to know her, she may need to change her nickname from Wicked to Wondrous.


Definitely a strong woman who exemplifies dedication and perseverance, she is also a mother figure on the program. Having taken rookie Jessica Holmberg under her wing, West provides a caring and generous presence as she prepares to groom her for the rough and tumble world of rodeo barrel racing. Although rodeo may be a predominantly male dominated sport, women like West and co-star Marvel Murphy are helping to shatter barriers.

Raised in Langley, British Columbia, West began riding horses at the age of three. Of note, her mother grew up in Burnaby and relocated the family (which involved West’s two older sisters and her younger brother) to the country. With her blacksmith grandfather having taught her how to ride, it would establish a foundation towards a solid future.

An acreage off of 200th Street in Langley was where West fell in love with all things horses. As Langley had an annual rodeo that was one of the showcase events in the community, it did not take long for West to become enamored with its adrenaline rush and bright lights.

Having established herself as a fixture on the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association, she is a card-holding barrel racer since 2001. The pinnacle of her career was attained in 2009 when West nabbed the Dodge National Circuit Finals Rodeo Championship. From 2006-09, she was a Columbia River Circuit Finals qualifier (having won the event in 2005).

During that time span, she would also experience some other highlights. In 2006, victories at Fort Worth, Texas and Reno, Nevada displayed the great skill and horsemanship that would pave the way for future glories. One such glory was the Brn4d Final 1D Championship which she earned in 2007. Setting a new world record with a time of 16.735, she shared the win with her prized horse (also known as a riding partner) Scottie Too Hottie.

Sadly, an injury to the horse forced off the circuit after 2009. Taking a sabbatical from racing, it was an emotional time for West. During her illustrious career, she sustained some injuries also. Including a separated shoulder and a temporary paralysis which lasted 24 hours in 2003, she has a physical toughness that makes her a highly respected competitor.

Heading into 2014, West has helped to raise three new riding partners. With the support of cherished friend and handler Sadie Sullivan, the three go by the monikers Cashup to Me, Frenchmans Wild Guy and Shesha Roan Peppy.

Having also done stunt work, West comes across as a jill-of-all-trades. Actresses such as Drew Barrymore and Cheryl Ladd are a small sample of some of the starlets she has doubled for. Various stunt credits include Dead Man’s Gun (with episodes featuring TV legends Henry Winkler and the late John Ritter), Gunslingers Moon, Scary Movie 3 and the infamous Tom Green vehicle Freddie Got Fingered.

The experience of stunt work certainly made West comfortable in front of the camera during the action scenes (primarily the horse racing). Although she disclosed to the Vancouver Sun that the involvement of cameras after the races (filming reactions and after-race parties) involved a period of adjustment.

Elements of entertainment are blended into the program as well. While remarkable action shots and dramatic pauses add to the drama, this is still a television program and not a documentary. As such, the claws have come out a few times as West stood up for Sadie in an argument with Darcy LaPier (a co-executive producer on the program) in the second episode.

Ironically, that second episode would also find Sadie showing West some support. With the offer of competing in a bikini barrel race, Sadie stuns as she dons a black bikini as a show of solidarity. Proving she is a good sport, West joins the younger racers on the program in the bikini barrel races. Appearing stunning in a breathtaking blue bikini, West proves that beauty knows no age.

Currently based out of Washington State with her husband Brian, a competitive calf roper, the couple tends to a ranch full of horses and dogs that roam freely on the grounds. While raising horses and looking after them entails many responsibilities, it is a labor of love for West. Although the verdict is still out on the potential success of Rodeo Girls, one clear element that radiates is West’s love for horses. An inspiring and empowering figure, her good natured demeanor and acumen makes her a role model for women of all ages.

Gold medal in Italy may be start of great run towards Sochi for Caroline Calve

Following the strong legacy of other remarkable female athletes from Quebec, Caroline Calve is going to the 2014 Sochi Winter Games with dreams of gold. Should the early months of 2014 be similar to the remaining months of 2013, the odds are certainly in her favor.

December 2013: Celebrating her gold medal in Carezza, Italy. (AP Photo/Felice Calabr)

December 2013: Celebrating her gold medal in Carezza, Italy. (AP Photo/Felice Calabr)

Considering she has broken barriers twice in the parallel giant slalom event, another opportunity to make history in Sochi would provide her with an exceptional triple crown. Of note, she became the first Canadian woman to capture the gold in the parallel giant slalom World Cup event. This occurred at a Carezza, Italy competition in 2011.

This was followed by a fourth-place event in Slovenia in February 2013 where she became the first Canadian woman to actually lead the Snowboarding World Cup standings. She would finish the 2012-13 season ranked third overall. Ironically, Carezza, Italy would play a prominent role in her 2013.

Team head shots at COC OES in Vancouver, Saturday, Sunday, May 11,12,  2013. Photo by Mike Ridewood/Canadian Olympic Committee

Team head shots at COC OES in Vancouver, Saturday, Sunday, May 11,12, 2013. Photo by Mike Ridewood/Canadian Olympic Committee

The December event saw Calve edge Russian Ekaterina Tudegesheva by a mere 0.06 seconds for her third World Cup victory. Selina Joerg of Germany finished in third. As slope conditions resulted in a course that was 340 meters in length with 25 gates, the podium finish provides Calve with tremendous confidence.

Gaining national prominence, Calve is certainly one of Canada’s greatest chances for a gold medal. Only 22 when she began snowboarding, this former skier was named as one of 47 Canadian athletes that will be part of the RBC Olympians program from 2013 to 2015. Hailing from Quebec’s Ouatouais region, she first appeared in the Winter Games at Vancouver 2010 in the parallel giant slalom competition.

Rain and lack of snow at Vancouver resulted in most of her training runs being cancelled. The Sochi World Cup in February 2013 featured sunshine and weather of 15C. Employing summer training and positive visualization, her adjustments should lead to a more confident performance in 2014.


One of her most unique contributions to Canadian sporting culture involves being featured on the boxes of Apple Cinnamon Cheerios. With General Mills as a proud sponsor of the Canadian Olympic Team, she is one of three females that not only have their image gracing a Cheerios product (Roz Groenewoud is on Chocolate Cheerios while hockey legend Hayley Wickenheiser covers Multi-Grain Cheerios) but a box of Nature Valley Granola Bars.

In addition, Calve may soon find her image mounted on the walls of an office cubicle or a locker. Also appearing in the 2014 Peak Moment CAN Fund Calendar, she is one of seven female athletes decked out in a black ensemble featuring a sports bra and shorts. Photographed by Howard Chang, every featured athlete has their chiseled frame and determined look immortalized in time.

Employing the superstition of wearing the same socks while racing, Calve is also a proud member of the First Nation’s Snowboard Team, this was founded by Aaron Marchant in 2004. Of Algonquin heritage, Calve is a strong role model for young Aboriginals, male and female, inspiring them to reach their potential in any facet of life that they choose. With the Snowboard Team using sport as a vehicle to promote a healthier lifestyle, the values of team-building and perseverance also propel a positive change.


Having grown up in admiration of Quebec swimmer and Summer Games medalist Sylvie Frechette, Calve has certainly followed in her proud legacy. Building up tremendous momentum after a strong finish to 2013, she is more than a sporting hero but a positive influence to those wishing to follow their dreams.

Pop culture authority Sam Maggs displays strong knowledge of sports on MTV Canada

In a culture where geek is now chic, it does not stop the sensational Sam Maggs from providing her articulate commentaries on other facets of life. While sports and the athlete would be the antithesis to comic books and role players, Maggs is a lot like a gatekeeper, finding balance in both realms while staying true to her ideals. It is part of a framework which makes her an inspiration for other young women looking to break into media.


A mainstay on MTV Canada’s “Play with AJ” television program, she is one of several bloggers that participates in the highly popular 30 Seconds of Fame segment. Debating the latest ramblings in sports, the topics are an amalgam of humor and nonchalance, while providing the winner with 30 seconds to discuss anything that is on their mind.

While Play with AJ’s primary focus is on sports, it melds the worlds of fashion and popular culture into a unique package that complements Maggs’ well-rounded and diverse views, making her a highly popular commentator for the network. During the Play with AJ 30 Seconds of Fame special (aired in December 2013), Maggs stole the show by commenting Miley Cyrus should take on former Disney stars in a Hunger Games setting.

Maggs (second from right) appearing on the All-Blogger episode of Play W/AJ on MTV Canada (Image obtained from Twitter)

Maggs (second from right) appearing on the All-Blogger episode of Play W/AJ on MTV Canada (Image obtained from Twitter)

In Maggs case, she provides liberation for the closeted geek (or jock) that enjoyed hockey as much as they did sci-fi. As a side note, pro wrestler CM Punk appeared on AMC’s The Talking Dead, a companion program (providing commentary) to their landmark hit, The Walking Dead. Adrienne Smith, a women’s tackle football player for the Boston Militia organized a trip to the White House to discuss the empowerment of women in sport. For Halloween, she was dressed as Wonder Woman.

As women continue to gain a foothold into sports, Maggs is helping to challenge the cultural norm of what a female sports fan should be. Educated at both the University of Western Ontario and Toronto’s Ryerson University, Maggs also contributes as an editor at GeekoSystem. While past decades sadly painted all women in sport with a butch persona, today’s women are trying to reinforce the notion that it is ok to not only be beautiful and feminine while liking sports, but you can also be yourself.

Olivia Viney kicks her way into the hearts and minds of Michigan football fans

Only two years ago, the thought of Olivia Viney competing in tackle football at the boys’ high school level was incomprehensible. A prominent soccer kicker, her older brother Tyler had kicked for the Marine City High School Mariners in 2009. During her sophomore year of high school, some boys had suggested that she follow in her brother’s footsteps.

Initially trying out for the junior varsity squad, her football journey would culminate by gracing the turf at Ford Field in Detroit. During the 2013 season, Viney was a starter on the varsity team and successfully connected on an astounding 93 percent of her point-after-attempts. Having accumulated 61 extra-points, it set a school record.

An elated Olivia Viney spotting her friends after an MHSAA state title win at Detroit's Ford Field. (Photo credit: Mike Mulholland)

An elated Olivia Viney spotting her friends after an MHSAA state title win at Detroit’s Ford Field. (Photo credit: Mike Mulholland)

With the support of Mariners head coach Ron Glodich, she was quickly accepted as one of the team. Competing with the Macomb Area Conference contender, the 5-foot-2 kicker finished her season on a historic note.

Helping her team land a spot in the MHSAA Finals at Ford Field, Viney kicked a stunning seven extra points in the 49-35 Division 4 State Title Game victory over Grand Rapids South Christian high. Of note, her seven extra points not only tied the MHSAA Title Record, but it broke a new school record for the Mariners. When she landed her first extra point in the second quarter of the contest, it marked the first point scored by a female football player in the history of the event.