Cross Country NWT remembers Pat Bobinski

Pat Bobinski

Cross Country NWT wishes to pay tribute to Pat Bobinski, a legend of biathlon in the Northwest Territories, who has passed away at the age of 77.

Pat touched many lives and contributed to a wide range of sports over several decades, from shooting to track and field, while working tirelessly in a number of volunteer roles on behalf of both the North and his home community of Hay River.

On top of that, his endeavours left a lasting legacy for biathlon in the North.

As the driving force behind his sport, Pat’s contribution to high performance included helping Brendan Green to success at the Canada Games and, later, two Olympic Games. However, his most important work helped to improve access to sport for young people from the spectrum of NWT communities.

Pat first became the president of NWT Biathlon in 1978. In 2010, he received Biathlon Canada’s June Hooper Award for his contributions to the sport.

He was loved and will be missed by a great many people. Cross Country NWT sends condolences to all of those affected by the news of his passing and thanks Pat for a life dedicated to the North and to sport.

Read more about Pat’s life and work on the CBC News website

Sharon Firth receives honorary doctorate of laws from U of A

NWT skiing legend Sharon Firth has been awarded an honorary doctorate of laws by the University of Alberta.

The ceremony took place on Wednesday night, and CBC’s cameras were rolling to capture Sharon’s acceptance speech.

You can read more and watch her speech on the CBC News website.

Challenging graduates to give their all for Canada, and referring to her late sister Shirley Firth Larsson, Sharon said: “Shirley and I challenged one another to be Canada’s top Nordic skiers, nationally and internationally. In my mind’s eye, and in my heart and soul, we gave Canada our best.”

Dates announced for Top of the World Loppet’s 50th anniversary

Start of 2016 Top of the World Loppet

The start of the 2016 Top of the World Loppet in Inuvik, NT.

Inuvik’s 2018 Top of the World Loppet will take place on Saturday, April 7 and Sunday, April 8, 2018.

Next year’s races mark the 50th anniversary of the first Top of the World Loppet, hosted by the Inuvik Ski Club during its founding season in 1968.

Cross Country NWT is excited to support the Top of the World Loppet and celebrate Inuvik’s continuing contribution to Canadian skiing, while honouring the community’s place in the sport’s heritage.

If you would like more information about travelling to the Top of the World Loppet as a participant, volunteer, spectator or media, get in touch with us or you can contact Inuvik Ski Club.

The club says:

This event will offer some of the finest spring skiing in the world, even after the end of many 2017-2018 ski seasons. Sunshine into the late night, excellent snow conditions, and the unique setting of the Mackenzie Delta will ensure an unforgettable loppet experience. Inuvik was home to the Territorial Experimental Ski Training (TEST) program, which trained a host of Olympians, including Canada Sports Hall of Fame members and Aklavik sisters Sharon Firth and the late Shirley Firth Larsson. The Inuvik ski trails remain an important community heritage facility.

The start of the 1978 Top of the World Loppet

From the archive: skiers start the 1978 Top of the World Loppet in Inuvik.

The Inuvik Ski Club has a large network of groomed trails and seven months of snow cover, providing one of the longest ski seasons anywhere. Ski trails are nestled between the treeless tundra and the northern boreal forest, with spectacular views of the Richardson Mountains and town centre. A mixture of winding, forested loops, and open, willow-lined descents make for a technical and fun topography. Inuvik (‘place of people’ in Inuvialuktun) is the homeland of the Inuvialuit and Gwich’in peoples and residence for a wide variety of people and cultures. A place of rich diversity, Inuvik is located on the Mackenzie Delta – a maze of lakes and streams forming Canada’s largest freshwater delta, on the edge of the Arctic Ocean. The community is alive with activity during the spring, with weekly festivals and celebrations marking the return of warmer weather.

As this event approaches, the volunteer-led Inuvik Ski Club hopes to engage with potential attendees, racers, and supporting organizations to make the 50th edition of the Top of the World Loppet an unforgettable event. July 1st, 2017 will mark the opening of our TOWL Logo Contest, which will invite contestants from across Canada to design the emblem used for the Loppet. The club will also hold open TOWL Committee meetings monthly leading up to the event. We invite any interested parties or individuals to engage with the club online or by mail. Please help us celebrate five decades of ski racing in Inuvik!

NWT’s Miriam Green receives national Firth Award

Miriam Green with athletes

Miriam Green, left, is winner of the 2017 Firth Award.

Northwest Territories ski coach Miriam Green has received a national award for her dedication to the sport.

Cross Country Canada named Miriam, from Yellowknife, as a recipient of the Firth Award at its annual meeting in Canmore this past weekend.

The Firth Award honours women who make an outstanding contribution to skiing in Canada and is named for Aklavik sisters Sharon Firth and Shirley Firth Larsson, who each competed at four Olympic Winter Games.

“I feel very surprised and flattered and honoured. It’s really cool,” said Miriam, who coached in Behchoko and Yellowknife from 1995 to 2001 before moving south, then returned to Yellowknife in 2009.

“For one thing, it feels like kind-of getting away with something because everything I’ve done with skiing is so much fun.

Shawne Kokelj accepts award

Shawne Kokelj, right, with Saskatchewan winner Sally Venne, accepts the Firth Award on Miriam Green’s behalf.

“The Firth sisters, even when I grew up as a junior skier in Ontario, were an inspiration for me. I still have a poster of them in my wall, right in front of me in my office. I feel humbled.”

Miriam was unable to travel to Canmore for the announcement, so Cross Country NWT board member Shawne Kokelj accepted the award on her behalf. This year’s award is shared by Miriam and fellow nominee Sally Venne, of La Ronge, Saskatchewan.

In nominating Miriam for the Firth Award, Cross Country NWT highlighted her role as an invaluable mentor and role model to younger skiers in the North; her exceptional technique, as a former competitor at world junior level; and her unique ability to convey that technique to young athletes. Congratulations, Miriam!