Third annual Beauty of Sport edition captures Canadian female sporting heroes

Including a very different but unique aspect to its captivating series of stunning visual images, Sportsnet Magazine’s Beauty of Sport returns for a third annual edition. With Dara Howell gracing its cover in a black swimsuit, holding her skis with a determined focus, it sets the tone for a much different magazine compared to its preceding editions.

Gold medalist Dara Howell would become the cover girl for Sportsnet Magazine’s 2014 edition of The Beauty of Sport (Photo credit: Mark Zibert, Obtained from: http://www.sportsnet.ca/the-beauty-of-sport/)

Gold medalist Dara Howell would become the cover girl for Sportsnet Magazine’s 2014 edition of The Beauty of Sport (Photo credit: Mark Zibert, Obtained from: http://www.sportsnet.ca/the-beauty-of-sport/)

Compared to the 2013 edition, where Emily Betty was in a powder blue swimsuit, with the Nevada sun shining on her remarkable athletic frame, the 2014 edition carried a much darker tone and serious side. Of note, most of the athletes for the 2013 edition were photographed in Las Vegas. The vibrant setting and glamorous aura of the surroundings created a series of brightly colored backdrops, complemented by vivid swimwear as perfectly white smiles complement the electricity of the shoot.

Field hockey player Kathleen Leahy has ambitions to compete at the 2016 Rio Summer Games (Photo credit: Mark Zibert, Obtained from: http://www.sportsnet.ca/the-beauty-of-sport/)

Field hockey player Kathleen Leahy has ambitions to compete at the 2016 Rio Summer Games (Photo credit: Mark Zibert, Obtained from: http://www.sportsnet.ca/the-beauty-of-sport/)

The 2014 edition, photographed exclusively in Canada, does not feature such a sexy and dynamic series of images. Photographed by Mark Zibert in the wilderness of Moraine Lake near Lake Louise, Alberta, there is an air of intensity that emanates from the athletes, both male and female.

Beginning the photo shoot by capturing speed skater Alexandra Ianculescu and field hockey player Kathleen Leahy, they would be among a group of nine empowered female athletes. As a side note, heptathlete Rachel McIntosh and rower Sarah Black would be part of a portfolio sharing their workout tips.

Rachel Machin would show no fear as she poses with a 1500 lb. buffalo in Alberta (Photo credit: Mark Zibert, Obtained from: http://www.sportsnet.ca/the-beauty-of-sport/)

Rachel Machin would show no fear as she poses with a 1500 lb. buffalo in Alberta (Photo credit: Mark Zibert, Obtained from: http://www.sportsnet.ca/the-beauty-of-sport/)

Three of the athletes, Dara Howell, Meghan Agosta-Marciano and Kirsten Moore-Towers all experienced podium finishes at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games. Of note, Jennifer Abel would be photographed in a sand quarry while Rachel Machin would be fearlessly photographed with a 1,300-pound buffalo. Women’s hockey legend Meghan Agosta-Marciano would be photographed with a wolf.

Even though a series of exclusive online photos feature two athletes topless (Machin and marathon runner Natasha Wodak), it comes across almost as necessity rather than sensuality.

Promising figure skater Kirsten Moore-Towers earned a silver medal at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games (Photo credit: Mark Zibert, Obtained from: http://www.sportsnet.ca/the-beauty-of-sport/)

Promising figure skater Kirsten Moore-Towers earned a silver medal at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games (Photo credit: Mark Zibert, Obtained from: http://www.sportsnet.ca/the-beauty-of-sport/)

With many of the photos in black and white, the dynamic mountain range of Alberta and its powerful scenery fulfills a presence which complements the toughness of these world-class athletes. The subject matter of the write-ups also mimics such sentiment as it attempts to measure the beauty of the athletes in their ability to overcome and succeed, portraying a sense of courage that is evidently beautiful.

In learning of the athletes great personal triumphs, it exemplifies a character and desire which is admirable. In that admiration lies a beautiful respect which captures the spirit of the emotions that grace the Beauty of Sport’s remarkable pages.

Dara Howell grabs the gold in the inaugural running of women’s slopestyle at Sochi

As women’s slopestyle was a sport that late Canadian ski legend Sarah Burke worked so tirelessly to bring into the Winter Games fold, it was only fitting that a Canadian earned the first gold in the event. With the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park serving as the backdrop for the newest chapter in women’s competition at the Winter Games, Dara Howell won Canada’s fourth overall gold medal at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games.

Hailing from Huntsville, Ontario, she would grab the gold in the inaugural slopestyle ski competition with a score of 94.20 during her first run. Fellow Canadian Kim Lamarre won the bronze, scoring 85.00 on the second run, while American Devin Logan obtained the silver. All three have made a memorable mark in Sochi as this titanic trio signifies the first medalists in the history for the event.

Silver medalist Devin Logan (L) of the USA, Gold medalist Dara Howell of Canada and Bronze medalist Kim Lamarre of Canada celebrate their achievements in the womenÕs ski slopestyle after receiving their medals at the Medals Plaza in the Olympic Park during the Sochi 2014 Olympic Games, February 11, 2014. Photo by Jean Levac/Postmedia News

Silver medalist Devin Logan (L) of the USA, Gold medalist Dara Howell of Canada and Bronze medalist Kim Lamarre of Canada celebrate their achievements in the womenÕs ski slopestyle after receiving their medals at the Medals Plaza in the Olympic Park during the Sochi 2014 Olympic Games, February 11, 2014. Photo by Jean Levac/Postmedia News

Previously stating that she was hoping a Canadian would win the gold medal, it almost happened that Canada could have swept the podium. Considering other Canadian competitors finished in fourth and fifth place, Logan’s acrobatic run prevented the sweep.

At only 19 years old, Howell certainly represents the promising future of the sport. Although it may take time to absorb what has transpired, there is no question that Howell has earned herself a place in the hearts and minds of Canadian sports fans. Dedicating her victory to Sarah Burke, it signified a tremendous growth as a competitor and as a person.

Photo credit: MIKE EHRMANN/GETTY IMAGES

Photo credit: MIKE EHRMANN/GETTY IMAGES

Friends and family gathered at the Muskoka Ski Club to watch the event on television. Rounds of applause, cheers of celebration and tears of joy defined the gathering as a homegrown talent made worldwide headlines. Victory celebrations for Howell upon her return home include skiing with her 99-year-old grandfather.

Dara Howell, centre, celebrates after winning gold at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. Fellow medalists include Devin Logan and Kim Lamarre. (AP / Andy Wong)

Dara Howell, centre, celebrates after winning gold at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. Fellow medalists include Devin Logan and Kim Lamarre. (AP / Andy Wong)

Despite the jubiliation of Howell’s victory, there was also desolation among her fellow Canadian competitors. Yuki Tsubota of Whistler, BC had to be removed from the course on a stretcher with a severe jaw injury. With a very slushy course, she missed her third jump as she slid down the hill in pain.

Montreal’s Kaya Turski, whose innovative surgery provided her with the chance to make her Winter Games dream come true, fell twice in qualifying. In one crash, she separated her shoulder. While she valiantly popped it back into place, her status as a medal favorite quickly evaporated afterwards. Gracious in defeat, she congratulated her Canadian teammates on social media.