christmas book suggestion: inspirational story dept.
We think that biking can offer a lot of adventure, but we know that for real death-defying adventure, it's hard to beat downhill skiing.
We apologize for talking skiing, and not cycling, but this post has the minimum required two of the three cycle, fun, and Montreal themes. And in winter, skiing is always a great fun. Sometimes, cold, great fun, but always great. Especially it turns out that you have survived and arrived at the bottom of the hill in a non-ambulance-requiring condition.
We really admire the skills of expert skiers, but todays ski gear is cruise control versus the conditions and equipment of the alpine skiers in the pre-1960s era. Back then downhill skiing meant assuming a LOT of risk, with associated potential permanent injury of many different body parts.
And that was just recreational skiers, racers had to look death in the eye, and not blink.
That's hard enough, but what if you were also a woman, and specifically a woman who wanted to race? The boys-club system of the era wasn't set up at all for encouraging the more-delicate gender to race. The women ski racers of the era were pioneers, driven by love of skiing and of personal challenge and to be the very best they can be. Why would officials get in the way of that? We are happy to report that things are somewhat better today, but not yet perfect.
We give a lot of credit to women sports pioneers who had to fight the system before they could put on heir skis to fight gravity, ice, wind, and snow. And to try beat all the other girls down the hill, too.
Ok, but what about the book?
It must be time to mention that we are talking about a book about twin sisters from Montreal, in the 1940s and 1950s, who loved to ski, and went out and raced against the world.
No Limits: The Amazing Life Story of Rhona and Rhoda Wurtele, Canada's Olympian Skiing Pioneers
The author is Byron Wempel.
No Limits tells the previously undisclosed tale of Canada’s most decorated alpine skiers of all time: Rhona and Rhoda Wurtele. Decades before extreme sports, identical twins Rhona and Rhoda Wurtele were unstoppable, inseparable trailblazers not only for skiers, but also for women and Canadian sports. Today, they’re carving new trails for seniors in sports.
This engrossing book not only details the twins’ accomplishments in downhill ski racing in the Laurentians then throughout North America but also the unique challenges they faced in the 1940s and 1950s. We learn that they were ski jumping at age 11 on Mount Royal, that during a -36 degree snowstorm Rhoda came first in the famed Taschereau race at Mont Tremblant, beating all other women and men by a full 24 seconds, and that in 1948 the twins made up the entire Canadian Olympic women's downhill ski team.
Here's some useful links:
The sisters at Wikipedia (Check out the amazing number of first place prizes these two won!)
The book at Google books (look inside)
No Limits at Twinski (the publisher)
Sans Limites (the version française) at Twinski
Sans Limites at Editions Histoire Quebec
We saw (but we didn't get to meet) one of the sisters at the QWF's (Quebec Literary Federation) annual awards gala on Tuesday night. (No, they don't give out awards for bloggers)
This book was shortlisted for the 2008 QWF's first-book award, and was up this year for the QWF translation award for Sans Limites, the book in french, and translated by Michelle Tisseyre.
Its also got 300 photos.
So, this is our christmas gift book suggestion in the inspirational life story department.
If this story doesn't inspire you, nothing will!