Crashing the Icey Ceiling: Extreme Women Coming to Centretown

The picture shows Jacqueline Legere (in pink) racing against other female competitors. Photographed by Samo Vidic.

Published in Centretown News

Red Bull’s Crashed Ice world championship finale is taking place next to the Fairmont Chateau Laurier on March 3 and 4, and Jacqueline Legere of Brantford, Ont. — currently second in world rankings — could take home the gold for Canada.

“I never really expected to be doing something like this,” she wrote via Facebook. “To travel worldwide representing your country is something to be very proud of.”

As Crashed Ice graces the capital for the first time, many must be wondering why large ramps are being constructed at the Rideau locks next to the castle-like hotel. What even is ice cross downhill skating?

Picture people soaring up and down icy hills and barreling around corners – on skates. It’s an extreme sport, and Red Bull hosts the world championship.

Like most competitive sports, in ice cross downhill men and women compete separately. Legere said she did team races alongside the male competitors for training. And though it was tough, she said she likes the challenge.

“It was fun,” Legere wrote. “Didn’t finish last every time.”

When asked whether she believes men and women should compete against one another as opposed to competing in separate divisions, Legere said that the day might very well come.

“The guys are for sure at a higher skill level, so it would be a lot harder, but the gap has been closing between the girls and the guys,” she wrote. “The skill level has gone way up for the females, so it’s good competition. I like it.”

As construction is well underway on the ramps at the Rideau Locks, tourists and locals alike are enjoying the atmosphere of Winterlude.

Many skate the Rideau Canal —like Paige Tallman, who was posing recently for a selfie with her friend. She said she was excited about Crashed Ice coming to town and was thinking of volunteering.

As a young girl, Tallman played hockey, and she said she would go up against the boys because she liked the competition.

Still, she said she was not convinced that men and women should always compete against each other: “I don’t know because there are some pretty kick-ass girls out there, too,” Tallman said. “But I guess, yeah… For contact. Just because men are obviously scientifically bigger and stronger than women.”

Allison Sandmeyer-Graves is the CEO of the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport and Physical Activity. Though Sandmeyer-Graves acknowledged that men and women have physiological differences, she said many other factors have contributed to the division of sports by sex.

“The issue with sex-segregated sport often lies in the opportunity gap, so women are often paid less than their male peers,” she said. “They don’t get the prime-time broadcast slots for their races or their games, and they don’t get the marquee, competition venues.”

She said women must overcome the social pressures, norms and obstacles that may stand between them and their athletic interests. She also mentioned that sports teams must make efforts to encourage transgender participation, and that gender issues and sexual divisions within sports teams is a topic that needs more mainstream attention.

Read the full article in Centretown News!

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