February 5, 2024: Gathering together with other women in the sports community can be powerful. Last weekend, we had the opportunity to be part of NENSA (New England Nordic Ski Association) Women’s Day, alongside three other New England brands and over 200 women to celebrate the sport of Nordic skiing. As female owned businesses, we all support NENSA as an organization and were able to observe the magic that happens when an active community comes together. Here are a few of the inspiring takeaways from Laura King of Paradis Sport , Carina Hamel of Bivo and Kate Harvey of BirdieBlue.
“Be Noisy” and Advocate for What you Want
by Carina Hamel, Co Founder, Bivo
Molly Peters was the keynote speaker at NENSA Women’s Day this year. Molly ski raced at Middlebury College and is now a coach at Saint Michael’s College in Vermont. From when she started racing 25 years ago, Molly was discouraged by the fact that women always raced shorter distances than men in cross country skiing. To her point, a running marathon is 26.2 miles long for men and women. Why should women race shorter distances than men in skiing? It literally made no sense. So, she got NOISY. She started fighting for equal distances across the board – from local Eastern Cup races all the way up to the Olympics. Naturally, she got a lot of push back, but she kept winning over key athletes to keep her dream moving forward. First, Jessie Diggins got on board. Then Matt Whitcomb and Chris Grover (two of the main US Ski Team coaches). Molly fought and fought and eventually, she won. She changed the system. Men and women now race equal distances in all FIS World Cup races, they race equal distances on the collegiate circuit, and they will race equal distances in the Olympics in 2026. I have to say, it’s kind of crazy and absolutely BAD ASS that Molly did this. When I was listening to her speak, I couldn’t believe that there was one woman behind this initiative and she actually did it. One person got noisy and she built pressure by pulling in people to support her. The power of advocating for what you want can change an entire system.
Power of Women Teaching Women
by Laura King Marketing + Brand Strategy, Paradis Sport
I first heard Rebecca Rusch (of Mountain Bike Hall of Fame) speak about the difference between instructing women versus men in cycling. She noted that, generally speaking, women tend to underestimate their abilities to learn new skills on the bike, which is less likely the case when teaching men. I also came to see this modeled in the women’s gravel cycling clinics I helped lead. I marveled throughout the weekend at the confidence I could see growing as women would observe other women attempting a skill and could see something click…. “If she can do it, I can too”, was the shift in confidence I’d see transforming their initially nervous demeanor. Most who attended also noted that their entrance into the sport was through a husband, boyfriend or brother, but they were seeking community with other women.
Women have been teaching each other for centuries, sharing knowledge and skills that have helped to empower and improve their lives. In recent years, the power of women teaching women is increasingly recognized, and there are now a number of organizations and initiatives, including NENSA, dedicated to supporting this work. This was the 23rd year of the women’s-only event which breaks down barriers to learning Nordic skiing techniques, supports growth in the mental and emotional realm of learning a sport, and brings together community to share the love of skiing
Power of Networking around Women Led Brands
by Kate Harvey, Founder, Birdie Blue Creations
#Womensupportingwomen is a popular and perhaps over-used hashtag in the social media universe. However, there is real power when women support each other in sport and business. This phenomenon played out in full display at NENSA’s 23rd annual Women’s Day. As a newer female business owner, I have learned first hand just how exciting, but also hard it is to launch a new venture. The road is never straight, as much as we try to force it to be, and the experience can be lonely. What has kept me going is my fellow female entrepreneurs. Many of these women, whom I now call my friends, share their time (that they also don’t have), knowledge, advice, and relationships. We are never alone when leaning on each other, celebrating wins, and helping to open doors.
Trina Hosmer, Olympian and Women’s Day organizer, put it perfectly in her event summary email: “I was on the first women’s US Olympic Team in Sapporo, Japan in 1972 and believe me, no one knew who we were, much less what xc skiing was. So, thanks to the current US Nordic Ski Team’s success and events such as this, we are on the map.” Because of the power of women like Trina paving the way, our kick ass women’s Nordic Team is KILLING IT on the World Cup Tour and getting the recognition they deserve. I believe many of our current Nordic stars like Jessie Diggins, Julia Kern, OLY , and Rosie Brennan would agree. The same rings true for us women led brands. We are not only turning to each other to drive success, but gratefully carving a path for the future generations of women leaders. May their path be a little less rocky and may they get the recognition they deserve!