Canada's Cross-Country Olympic Pioneers

The Arctic Skiers Who Challenged the World

YELLOWKNIFE, Feb. 18 /CNW/ - Join Olympic cross country trailblazing skiers Sharon and Shirley Firth and author Sally Manning at Canada's Northern House, Friday, February 19, 2010 at noon for an informal chat and book signing. As the Olympic Winter Games continue in Vancouver, their book, Guts and Glory: The Arctic Skiers Who Challenged the World recreates one of the most remarkable eras in Canadian Olympic history.

It brings to life the amazing saga of Canada's cross-country pioneers - the talented young Aboriginal racers from Inuvik, Northwest Territories, who skied to international glory in the late 1960s and 1970s. When these kids blazed their way to the Olympics, they set the stage for today's Canadian stars. They were feted by the media, ski fans across the world, and the Prime Minister of the day, Pierre Elliot Trudeau.

At the Sapporo Games in 1972, five of the eight cross-country skiers on the Canadian team were Aboriginal teenagers from the Far North. Four more Inuvik skiers went to Innsbruck in 1976. Two of these Northerners, Sharon and Shirley Firth, competed for their country in a total of four Olympic Winter Games. While they never won Olympic medals, the twin threats from the Mackenzie Delta displayed such courage and skill against far more experienced competition that they cemented Canada's rightful place among Nordic skiing nations. And they sparked the careers of a whole new generation.

Packed with photos and colourful anecdotes, Guts and Glory was written by Sally Manning, herself a cross-country skier who has competed in several World Masters Championships. To research her book, Manning tracked down archival records and interviewed dozens of Inuvik skiers, organizers and coaches. But the narrative is rooted in the athletes' point of view - it's their own story, told vividly in their own words.

Like the Arctic skiers in this story, author Sally Manning has always been passionate about sport. In 1979 she was selected to the World All-Star women's field hockey team, the first Canadian ever so honoured. Today, in international competition, Sally has replaced field hockey with cross-country skiing.

Guts and Glory: The Arctic Skiers Who Challenged the World, by Sally Manning

Outcrop, The Northern Publishers, Yellowknife. ISBN 0-919315-34-8

Books available at Northern House, Vancouver or contact


For further information: For further information: or media accreditation, please contact: Ronne Heming at (867) 445-6281 or

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