The Firth Sisters: Northern Lights

    January 10, 2011

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    The Firth sisters: Shirley and Sharon.
    Just more than 200 km north of the Arctic circle is Inuvik, one of the harshest places in the world. From this cold and dark tundra came two of Canada's most resilient athletes. For two decades Shirley and Sharon Firth dominated the Canadian women's cross-country skiing scene. From 1972 to 1984 they represented Canada in four consecutive Winter Olympics; a streak only equaled by speed skating legend Gaetan Boucher. To accomplish that remarkable feat, they overcame prejudice, sickness, despair and rejection.

    Sharon and Shirley were born fifteen minutes apart on New Year's eve 1953 in Aklavik, NWT. They lived in the community until 1959 when, because of flooding and erosion problems, the federal government relocated 100 families to the spot where Inuvik now stands.

    The Firths were a traditional native family who lived off the land. Their father was a Loucheaux-Metis trapper. Each year he followed the great caribou herds of the MacKenzie Delta. His girls trapped smaller game like rabbits. Shirley feels that's when the twins started to learn about competition.

    "My mom taught us how to look for animal tracks. Once I saw my sister glaring at this one area to set up a snare trap, and I said 'That's mine'. So the competition started right there," recalls Shirley.

    The girls were introduced to skiing in 1965 by Father Jean Marie Mouchet, a Roman Catholic priest. During World War II, Mouchet served in the ski troops that patrolled the French-Italian border.

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    Firth sisters were introduced to cross-country skiing in 1965, by Father Jean Marie Mouchet.
    Before the missionary arrived skiing was unheard of in Inuvik. Mouchet saw something in the people of the Mackenzie Delta that convinced him they would make great skiers.

    "They were trappers, they were hunters. They were living in the very cold climate doing ordinary work, like cutting and packing wood and going down to the river to bring water up. It gave them the right components," explains Mouchet.

    Mouchet acquired some used skis from the US Air Force in Alaska. He passed them out to kids in the community. Mouchet devoted almost as much time to skiing as to his sermons. He gave ski lessons and would take the kids on long runs. The French priest's love of the sport would often get him in trouble with the Church, particularly when kids spent Sundays on skis rather than in church. Mouchet told his superiors he believed the kids were closer to God when they were skiing.

    Shirley was among the first to get a pair of Mouchet's skis. On that first day, with her new equipment, she asked her mother if she could go skiing with her friends. Her mother said yes, on one condition--she took her sister Sharon with her. Shirley grudgingly agreed.

    "I remember I wanted to go skiing with some friends. I couldn't go unless my sister Sharon came with me and I was totally against that," remembers Shirley.

    "When Shirley chose to go skiing, I wanted to tag along. I asked my mother, 'Shirley is going skiing, can I go too?' She said I had to come along with her," says Sharon.

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    Father Mouchet (left) and Bjorger Petterson.
    On the Firths' first day of skiing, Father Mouchet invited Bjorger Petterson to watch his kids. Petterson, a Norwegian coach working with the Canadian Ski Association, was impressed with the kids' enthusiasm.

    "They came out in their jeans and they tried skiing for the first time. It was kind of primitive, but I could see there was a lot of pep there," says Petterson.

    Soon Mouchet's skiing project caught the attention of the federal government. Ottawa gave Mouchet money to keep it going. The project became known as the Territorial Experimental Ski Training program (TEST). The kids of the Mackenzie Delta would ski, and the best would be coached by Petterson. Among those making Petterson's elite ski team were the Firth twins.

    The program gave the twins their first opportunity to see the world beyond Inuvik.

    "(Petterson) said that if we do well we'd travel the world and as a child that was one of my dreams. In school I used to sit by the window and wonder 'What it was like out there? Will I ever see this world? Will I just stay here in the north?,'" recalls Sharon.

    One of the Firth sisters' first major races was in Anchorage, Alaska.

    "I remember flying to Alaska. I had never been in an airplane. Anchorage was this huge city, with street lights, elevators and things that we don't have in Inuvik," says Shirley.

    Shirley beat the favourite to win the meet. It would be the first of many victories for the Firth sisters. In total they combined 48 Canadian championships. The Firths' success transformed Inuvik into a hotbed of cross-country skiing. By the 1972 Winter Olympics, in Sapporo Japan, seven of the nine athletes on the Canadian nordic team, including Shirley and Sharon, came from the Mackenzie Delta.

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    In total the sisters combined for 48 Canadian championships.
    For Shirley the Olympic dream almost didn't become a reality. Just before Sapporo, she came down with hepatitis. The disease almost took her life, and had a tremendous impact on her sister Sharon.

    "Shirley and I are so close. When she was first diagnosed, my biggest fear was losing her. When I trained I would visualize Shirley beside me, like us skiing together," says Sharon.

    Anyone who's watched Shirley compete knows that she is a fighter. She refused to let hepatitis beat her.

    "I stayed in the hospital for three weeks. I never did such mental training in my whole life. That helped me to survive. I said 'I can do it. I'm going to come out and beat everyone,'" says Shirley.

    Shirley overcame the disease and made it to Sapporo. But she was just too weak to be competitive. Sharon finished a Canadian-best 24th overall. It was a solid result for a team that had only been skiing for a few years.

    Over the next four years the twins' reputation in the sport grew. Bert Bulloch joined the Inuvik Ski Team following the '72 Olympics. He says Sharon and Shirley were the team's marquee names.

    "They were a household name. Across the country, they didn't come to see me, or anyone else -- they came to see the twins," says Bulloch.

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    Shirley and Sharon  represented Canada at four consecutive Winter Olympics.
    The twins again led the Canadian team into the 1976 Innsbruck Games. But the course was very icy, and it didn't suit their style of skiing.

    "Very tough trails. Icy. I'm not a person that skis on ice, I don't have the weight to be an ice racer. But very tough," explains Shirley.

    Sharon came into the games with higher expectations. The poor showing was particularly tough.

    "In a race you want to win. I didn't win and I felt like a complete failure," says Sharon.

    If the disappointment at Innsbruck wasn't hard enough, the twins began feeling unwanted by their own ski association.

    "They wanted to have new people. But there was no one. We were the best in Canada, and when you sacrifice your time and energy to a sport, you want to stay on that team. But always having threats, like 'You're too old and you can stay as long as you produce.' It gets really tired," says Shirley.

    Petterson agrees. He felt the Firths deserved their spot on the Canadian team.

    "They were still the best talent in Canada. Not only the best skiers, the best talent," says Petterson.

    The Firths persevered, only to be dealt another blow. In 1979, while at an Olympic qualifying race in Quebec, the sisters received a phone call. Back home in Inuvik, their mother had died in a housefire.

    The girls were torn. If they went home, they wouldn't qualify for the Lake Placid Games, and feared the ski association would remove them from the team.

    "My mother was a very positive person. She was a survivor. She had a lot of strength, and worked hard all her life. That's something we learned from her, no matter what you do in life, you don't get anything free, you got to work for it. That's what we did," says Sharon.

    With that to guide them, the Firths stayed in Quebec and worked their way onto the Olympic team. But feeling the Ski Association wasn't fully behind them, the Firths again had a disappointing Olympics.

    "If you want to take the entire Canadian athletic scene into perspective, those two ladies have gone a long way in a short time and through a lot of obstacles. Everything from male chauvinism to prejudice to all the ugly things we deal with today. We went through all that and especially them because they're female and they're aboriginal ladies," say Bulloch.

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    Their last Olympics were the 1984 Games in Sarajevo.
    In 1984,  Sharon and Shirley competed in the Sarajevo Games. It was an unprecedented fourth consecutive appearance for a Canadian athlete. But by then, Shirley had been married for a year and knew it would be her last Olympics. Sharon knew that when one of them finished, the other would finish as well.

    "Well, I figured it would be my last, although deep down inside I didn't want it to finish because being with the elite in the world is such a great feeling," says Sharon.

    The Firths never won an Olympic medal, but they have no regrets.

    "I look back on the things I did through skiing and it's always been happy moments, the positive things that carry through and make your life more exciting," says Sharon.

    If the Firth sisters have one disappointment, it's that no one is following in their groove. The TEST program, which gave the Firths their start, has long been phased out. Coach Petterson is now a rancher in Southern Alberta. Father Mouchet still works with kids, but in Whitehorse.

    "I  cried when I saw those kids. These kids have lots of determination, but no guidance. They need a good coach who can show them good technique," laments Shirley.

    The Firths agree that without that combination of characters and influences in their early lives, they would not be who they are today. But make no mistake, their biggest asset was each other.


                                                                                                    Appendix A

     

    Accomplishments

     

    Year

    Sharon Firth

    Shirley Firth

     

     

     

    1968

    Canadian Junior Cross-Country Championships, Port Arthur, Ontario

    * Debut at the national level

    * Bronze medal in the 5km individual event

    Canadian Junior Cross-Country Championships, Port Arthur, Ontario

    * Debut at the national level

    * Silver medal in 5km individual event

     

    1969

    * Member of the first Canadian junior cross-country team to race and train in Scandinavia

    * Gold medal in younger junior class 5 km in Hasselaloppet, Sweden -- first junior victory by a Canadian in a European cross-country race

    *Bronze medal in Delsbo junior 5km

    * First top three finishes by a Canadian in a European meet

     

    Canadian Junior Cross-country Championships, Prince George, BC

    * Silver 5km

    * Gold 3x5km relay

     

    US Junior Nationals Mount Alyeska, Alaska

    * Gold 10km

     

    US Senior Nationals Mount Alyeska, Alaska

    * Gold 10km

     

    Canadian Senior Championships, Camrose, Alberta

    * Silver 10km

    * Silver 5km

    * Gold 3x5km relay (Sharon, Shirley, & Roseann Allen)

    * First gold medal at senior national championships

    * Member of first NWT ski team at Canadian senior nationals

    * Member of the first Canadian junior cross-country team to race and train in Scandinavia

    * Silver medal in younger junior class 5km in Hasslaloppet, Sweden

    * 5th in Delsbo junior 5km

    * First top three finishes by a Canadian in a European meet

     

     

     

    Canadian Junior Cross-country Championships, Prince George, BC

    * Gold medal 5km

    * Gold medal 3x5km relay

     

    US Junior Nationals Mount Alyeska, Alaska

    * first North American gold medal by an NWT skier

    * Gold 5km

    * Gold 3x5km relay

     

     

    Canadian Senior Championships, Camrose, Alberta

    * Gold 5km

    * Gold 10km for the first national ski title by an NWT athlete

    * Gold 3x5km relay (Sharon, Shirley, & Roseann Allen)

    * First gold medal at senior national championships (10km)

    * Member of first NWT ski team at Canadian senior nationals

     

     

    1970

    World Nordic Championships, Vysoke Tatry, Czechoslovakia

    * Member of first Canadian women’s team to World Nordic Championships

     

    European Junior Nordic Championships, Gosau, Austria

    * Member of the first Canadian junior team to world’s biggest junior meet (in effect a World Championships)

    * 22nd in 5km

    * 6th 3x5 relay

     

    US Senior Cross Country Championships, Putney, Vermont

    * Silver 10km

    * 4th 5km

     

    US Junior Nationals, Jackson Hole, Wyoming

    * Gold 5km

    * Gold 3x5km relay

     

    Kennedy Memorial Games, Lake Placid, New York

    * Bronze 5km

     

    Canadian Senior Championships, Sault Ste. Marie

    * Gold 5km

    * First individual gold medal at senior nationals

    * Silver 10km

    * Gold 3x5km relay (Sharon, Shirley, and Roseann Allen)

    * First skier, along with Sharon, to share back-to-back senior women’s relay titles

     

    World Nordic Championships, Vysoke Tatry, Czechoslovakia

    * Member of first Canadian women’s team to World Nordic Championships

     

    European Junior Nordic C hampionships, Gosau, Austria

    * Member of the first Canadian junior team to world’s biggest junior meet (in effect a World Championships)

    * 21st in 5km

    * 6th in 3x5km relay

     

    US Senior Cross Country Championships, Putney, Vermont

    * 4th 10km

    * Silver in 5km

     

    US Junior Nationals, Jackson Hole, Wyoming

    * Silver 5km

    * Gold 3x4km relay

     

    Kennedy Memorial Games, Lake Placid, New York

    * Silver 5km

     

    Canadian Senior Championships, Sault Ste. Marie

    * Gold 10km

    * Gold 3x5km relay (Sharon, Shirley, and Roseann Allen)

    * First skier, along with Sharon, to share back-to-back senior women’s relay titles

    1971

     

    Canadian Senior Championships, Prince George, BC

    * Silver 5km

    * Gold 10km

    * First 10km national individual crown

    * Gold 3x5km relay (Sharon, Shirley, Anita Allen)

    * First skier, along with Shirley, to share three straight women’s relay titles

     

    US Senior National, Durango, Colorado

    * Gold 5km

    * Gold 3x5km relay

    * 8th 10km

    * Selected to European circuit of Scandinavia

     

    North American Championships, Barrie, Ontario

    * Silver 5km

    * Gold 3x5km relay

     

    Canada Winter Games, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

    * Gold 3x5km relay

    * Silver 5km

     

    Canadian Senior Championships, Prince George, BC

    * Gold 5km

    * Silver 10km

    * Gold 3x5km relay (Sharon, Shirley, Anita Allen)

    * First skier, along with Sharon, to share three straight women’s relay titles

     

     

    US Senior National, Durango, Colorado

    * Bronze 5km

    * Gold 3x5km relay

    * 6th 10km

    * Selected to European circuit of Scandinavia

     

    North American Championships, Barrie, Ontario

    * Gold 5km

    * Gold 3x5km relay

     

    Canada Winter Games, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

    * Gold 3x4km relay

    * Gold 5km

     

    1972

     

    Winter Olympics, Sapparo, Japan

    * Member of first Canadian women’s cross-country team to Olympics

    * Among first NWT skiers to Olympics

    * Among first NWT Native skiers to Olympics

    * 26th 5km (Canadian best until 2002 – shared with Lorna Daudrich who placed 26th in 1988 – beaten in 2002 by Beckie Scott (6th), Milaine Theriault (24th), and tied by Sara Renner (26th) )

    * 24th 10km (Canadian best until 1984 – broken by sister, Shirley, in 1984, 22nd)

    *10th/11 3x5km relay (Sharon, Shirley, and Roseann Allen)

     

    North American Championships, Steamboat Springs, Colorado

    * 4th 5km

    * Gold 10km

    * Gold 3x5km relay (Sharon, Shirley, Roseann Allen)

     

     

     

     

    12-event Trans-Am series between Canada and US ending with Inuvik’s Top of the World Championships

    * 1st overall among North American women with 215 points

     

    Top of the World Ski Championships, Inuvik, NWT

    * larges meet north of the Arctic Circle

    * seven nations present

    * 4th 5km senior

    * Silver 5km junior

    * 5th 5km senior

    * Gold 3x5km relay

    * Silver 10km senior

     

    Awarded the John Semelink Memorial Award by the Canadian Ski Association for contribution to skiing in Canada

    * First Nordic skier to be so honoured

    * Shared award with twin sister Shirley

     

    Winter Olympics, Sapparo, Japan

    * Member of first Canadian women’s cross-country team to Olympics

    * Among first NWT skiers to Olympics

    * Among first NWT Native skiers to Olympics

    *35th 5km

    * 10th//11 3x5 (Sharon, Shirley, and Roseann Allen)

     

     

     

     

     

    North American Championships, Steamboat Springs, Colorado

    * Silver 5km

    * Silver 10km

    * Gold 3x5 relay (Sharon, Shirley, Roseann Allen)

     

     

     

     

    12-event Trans-Am series between Canada and US ending with Inuvik’s Top of the World Championships

    * 2nd overall among North American women with 195 points

     

    Top of the World Ski Championships, Inuvik, NWT

    * larges meet north of the Arctic Circle

    * seven nations present

    * Bronze 5km junior

    * Gold 5km junior

    * 6th 5km senior

    * Gold 3x5 senior relay

    * 5th 10km senior

     

    Awarded the John Semelink Memorial Award by the Canadian Ski Association for contribution to skiing in Canada

    * First Nordic skier to be so honoured

    * Shared award with twin sister Sharon

     

    1973

    Canadian Senior Championships, Prince George, BC

    * Gold 5km

    * Silver 10km

    * Gold 3x5km relay (Sharon, Shirley, and Lorraine Bullock)

     

    North American Championships, Thunder Bay, Ontario

    * Silver 5km

     

     

     

    Falun, Swedish Ski Games, Sweden

    * 25th 10km

    * 15th 5km

    * 8th/9 3x5km relay

    Canadian Senior Championships, Prince George, BC

    * Silver 5km

    * Gold 10km

    * Gold 3x5km relay (Sharon, Shirley, and Lorraine Bullock)

     

    North American Championships, Thunder Bay, Ontario

    * Gold 5km

    * Bronze 10km

    * Silver 3x5km relay

     

    Falun, Swedish Ski Games, Sweden

    * 22nd 10km

    * 26th 5km

    * 8th/9 3x5km relay

     

    1974

    World Nordic Championships, Falun, Sweden

    * Along with Shirley, first back-to-back appearance by a Canadian women at the World  Championships

    * 32 5km

    * 25th 10km

     

    Canadian Senior Championships, Mont Ste. Anne, Quebec

    * Silver 5km

    * Silver 10km

    * Gold 3x5km relay (Sharon, Shirley, and Joan Groothuysen)

    * Equalled 1969/70 effort of back-to-back relay titles 

     

    North American Championships, Big Sky, Montana

    * 7th 5km

    * Silver 10km

    * Bronze 3x5km relay

    World Nordic Championships, Falun, Sweden

    * Along with Sharon, first back-to-back appearance by a Canadian women at the World  Championships

    * 31st 5km

    * 24th 10km

     

    Canadian Senior Championships, Mont Ste. Anne, Quebec

    * 4th 5km

    * Gold 10km

    * Gold 3x5km relay (Sharon, Shirley, and Joan Groothuysen)

    * Equalled 1969/70 effort of back-to-back relay titles 

     

    North American Championships, Big Sky, Montana

    * 4th 5km

    * Gold 10km

    * Bronze 3x5km relay

    * Bronze 20km

    1975

    Canadian Senior Championships, Burns Lake, BC

    * Silver 5km

    * Gold 10km

    * Gold 3x5km relay (Sharon, Shirley, and Winnie Bullock)

     

     

    North American Championships, Mont Ste.Anne, Quebec

    * Gold 5km

    * Gold 10km

    * Gold 3x5km relay

    * First Canadian women to sweep all three gold in North Americans

     

    Pre-Olympics, Seefeld (Innsbruck) Austria

    * 33rd 5km

    Canadian Senior Championships, Burns Lake, BC

    * Gold 5km

    * Silver 10km

    * Gold 3x5 relay (Sharon, Shirley, and Winnie Bullock) to equal three back-to-back titles 1969-71

     

    North American Championships, Mont Ste.Anne, Quebec

    * Silver 5km

    * Silver 10km

    * Gold 3x5km relay

     

     

     

    Pre-Olympics, Seefeld (Innsbruck) Austria

    * 27th 5km

     

    1976

    Winter Olympics, Seefeld (Innsbruck) Austria

    * 29th 5km

    * 28th 5km

    7th/9 4x5km relay Sharon, Shirley, and Sue Holloway) (Current best-ever finish for a Canadian women’s relay team)

    Canadian Senior Championships, Sudbury, Ontario

    * Bronze 10km

    * Gold 20km

    * First gold in the 20km debut at national championships

    * Gold 3x5km relay (Sharon, Shirley, and Joan Groothuysen)

    * Along with Shirley first skiers to give NWT four consecutive women’s relay titles

    * Along with Shirley first skiers to give NWT back-to-back women’s relay titles, three in a row, five in a row, six in a row, seven in a row, eight in a row, a feat which remains today. NWT also won four in a row titles with other skiers as First were ’72 Olympics at the time

     

    North American Championships, Anchorage, Alaska

    * Silver 5km

    * 4th 10km

    * Gold 3x5km relay

    * Bronze 20km

    Winter Olympics, Seefeld (Innsbruck) Austria

    * 27th 5km

    * 29th 10km

    * 7th 3x5km relay (Sharon, Shirley, and Sue Holloway) (Current best-ever finish for a Canadian women’s relay team)

    Canadian Senior Championships, Sudbury, Ontario

    * Bronze 5km

    * Gold 10km

    * Bronze 20km

    * Gold 3x5km relay (Sharon, Shirley, and Joan Groothuysen)

    * Along with Sharon first skiers to give NWT four consecutive women’s relay titles

    * Along with Sharon first skiers to give NWT back-to-back women’s relay titles, three in a row, five in a row, six in a row, seven in a row, eight in a row, a feat which remains today. NWT also won four in a row titles with other skiers as First were ’72 Olympics at the time

     

     

    North American Championships, Anchorage, Alaska

    * Bronze 5km

    * Gold 10km

    * Gold 3x4km relay

    * Gold 20km

     

    1977

    Canadian Senior Nationals, Whitehorse, Yukon

    * Gold 5km

    * Gold 10km

    * Silver 20km

    * Gold 3x5km relay (Sharon, Shirley, and Joan Groothuysen)

    * Along with Shirley (though skiing for Alberta that season) first skiers to share in five consecutive relay titles

    * Declared aggregate champion based on totally points of three individual runs

     

    North American Champions, Morin Heights, Quebec

    * Silver 5km

    * Bronze 10km

    * Silver 3x5km relay

     

    US Nationals, Lyndonville, Vermont

    * Silver 7.5km

    * Gold 3x5km relay

     

     

    American Cup, Telemark, Wisconsin

    *Gold 5km

    * 4th 10km

    Canadian Senior Nationals, Whitehorse, Yukon

    * Silver 5km

    * Bronze 10km

    * Gold 20km and has honour of winning the first-ever national 20km

    * Gold 3x5 relay (Sharon, Shirley, and Joan Groothuysen)

    * Along with Sharon (though skiing for Alberta that season) first skiers to share in five consecutive relay titles

     

     

    North American Champions, Morin Heights, Quebec

    * Bronze 5km

    *4th 10km

    * Silver 3x5km relay

     

    US Nationals, Lyndonville, Vermont

    * Gold 7.5km

    * Silver 10km

    * Gold 3x5km relay

    * Gold 20km

    American Cup, Telemark, Wisconsin

    * Bronze 5km

    * Gold 10km

     

    1978

    Year off from Competition

    World Nordin Championships, Lahti, Finland

    * Only Canadian or American women cross-country skier to compete in three consecutive World Championships

    * 30th 10km

    * 36th 5km

    *9th/9teams 4x5 relay

     

    North American Championships, Lake Placid, New York

    * Gold 5km

    * Silver 10km

    * Gold 3x5km relay

     

    Canadian Nationals, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario

    * First women to sweep all individual events in nationals

    * Gold 5km

    * Gold 10km

    * Gold 20km

    * Declared aggregate champion

     

    6 Race Dannon Cup US Racing Series

    * 5th overall among North American women with 45 points

    * voted by Ski Racing Magazine as the Canadian women’s Nordic skier of the year

     

    1979

    Canada Winter Games, Brandon, Manitoba

    * Gold 5km

    * Gold 10km

     

    Canadian Senior Championships, Morin Heights, Quebec

    * Gold 5km

    * Bronze 10km

    * Silver 20km

    * Gold 3x5km relay (Sharon, Joan Groothuysen, and Duchane Richards)

    * Relay gold gave Sharon nine titles, the most of any skiers in Canadian senior history

     

    North American Championships, Barrie, Ontario (Horseshoe Valley)

    * Bronze 10km

    * 4th 5km

     

    Pre-Olympics, Lake Placid, New York

    * 23rd 5km

    * 25th 10km

     

    Dannon Cup US racing Series

    * Western champion with 104 points

    * National overall champion of East and West with 182 points

    Gitchi Gami Games, Telemark, Wisconsin

    * 9th 5km World Cup

    * Bronze 10km

     

     

    Canadian Senior Championships, Morin Heights, Quebec

    * 4th 5km

    * Gold 20km

    * Gold 10km

    * Declared aggregate champion

     

     

     

     

     

    North American Championships, Barrie, Ontario (Horseshoe Valley)

    * Gold 10km

    * Silver 5km

     

    Pre-Olympics, Lake Placid, New York

    * 17th 5km

    * 19th 10km

     

    Dannon Cup US racing Series

    * Winner overall in Eastern series with 96 points

    World Cup Circuit First Official series

    * Placed 15th overall among 76 skiers world-wide who counted in final standings in World Cup Standings

    39 points in final standings more than any Canadian male who had earned to date in men’s World Cup

    * Voted again by Ski Racing Magazine as Canadian Women’s Nordic skier of the year

     

    * Placed 15th in world Cup Standings Overall

     

    1980

    Winter Olympics, Lake Placid, New York

    * Along with Shirley, first Canadian or American women skier to compete in three consecutive Olympics

    * 35th 5km

     

     

     

     

    Canadian Seniors, Mont Ste.Anne, Quebec

    * Bronze 5km

    * 4th 10km

    * 5th 20km

     

     

     

     

    North American Championships, Telemark, Wisconsin

    * 11th 7.5km relay

    * Silver 4x5km relay

    * 6th 10km

    Winter Olympics, Lake Placid, New York

    * Along with Shirley, first Canadian or American women skier to compete in three consecutive Olympics

    * 28th 5km

    * 24th 10km

    * 8th/8 3x5km relay (Shirley, Angela Schmidt, and Joan Groothuysen)

     

    Canadian Seniors, Mont Ste.Anne, Quebec

    * Silver 5km

    * Gold 10km – first skier to win three consecutive 10km titles

    * Silver 20km

    * Declared aggregate champion

     

     

    North American Championships, Telemark, Wisconsin

    * 5th 7.5km

    * Silver 5km

    * Silver 4x5km relay

    * Voted third time by Ski Racing Magazine as Canadian women Nordic skier of the year

    1981

     

    Ten Race World Cup Circuit

    * 31st overall among 63 skiers who tallied points

    * 14 points in standings

     

     

     

     

     

    Canadian Senior Nationals, McBride, BC

    * 6th 5km

    * Bronze 10km

    * 5th 20km

     

     

     

    North American Championships, Whitehorse, Yukon

    * 9th 5km (World Cup final)

    * Gold 10km

     

     

     

     

     

     

    * Placed 31st Overall in World Cup

    Standings

     

    * Received the Commissioners Award of  the NWT – April 19, 1981

     

    Ten Race World Cup Circuit

    * 18th overall among 63 skiers world-wide

    * 41 points – the best total of any Canadian male or female skier on cross-country World Cup Circuit

    * Voted for the fourth time by Ski racing Magazine as Canadian women Nordic skier of the year

     

    Canadian Senior Nationals, McBride, BC

    * Silver 5km

    * Gold 20km

    * Gold 10km 0 fourth 10km title in a row

    * Declared aggregate champion

     

     

    North American Championships, Whitehorse, Yukon

    *5th 5km World Cup

    * Silver 10km

    * Gold 3x5km relay

     

    Gitchi Gami Games, Telemark Wisconsin

    * Gold 10km

    * Gold 3x5km relay

     

    * Placed 18th Overall in World Cup Standings

     

    * Received the Commissioners Award of  the NWT – April 19, 1981

     

    1982

    World Nordic Championships, Oslo, Norway

    * 25th k5km

    * 18th 20km

    * 7th/11 3x5km relay

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Canadian Senior Nationals, Edmonton, Alberta

    * Silver 5km

    * Silver 10km

    * Gold 20km

     

     

     

    Ten Race World Cup Circuit

    * 29th overall among skiers who tallied points

    * 22 points for season

    * Placed 29th Overall in World Cup Standings

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    * Placed 29th in World Cup Standings Overall

    World Nordic Championships, Oslo, Norway

    * Only Canadian woman to compete in four consecutive World Skiing Championships of any kind

    * 31st 5km

    * 23rd 10km

    * 12th 20km

    * 7th/11 3x5km relay

     

     

    Canadian Senior Nationals, Edmonton, Alberta

    * Gold 5km

    * Gold 10km – first woman to win five straight 10km crowns

    * Silver 20km

    * Declared aggregate champion

     

    Ten Race World Cup Circuit

    * Best season ever

    * Highest points by any male or female Canadian cross-country skier ever

    * 11th overall among 66 skiers who counted world-wide

    * 65 points - best total by any Canadian woman and two shy of best North American Alison Spencer of Alaska who managed 67 in 1967

    * Voted for the fifth straight time as Canadian woman Nordic skier of the year by Ski Racing Magazine

     

    * Placed 11th in World Cup Standings Overall

     

    1983

    Ten Race World Cup Circuit

    * 35th among 51 skiers who earned points

    * 12 points for season

     

     

     

     

    Canadian Senior Nationals, Labrador City, Newfoundland

    * Silver 5km

    * Silver 10km

    * Gold 20km

     

     

    Pre-Olympics, Sarajevo, Yugoslavia

    *37th 5km

     

     

    * Placed 35th Overall in World Cup Standings

    Ten Race World Cup Circuit

    * 25th among 51 skiers who tallied points

    * point total 26

    * voted sixth straight time by Ski Racing Magazine as Canadian woman nordic skier of the year

     

    Canadian Senior Nationals, Labrador City, Newfoundland

    * Gold 5km

    * Gold 10km – sixth straight 10km gold

    * Silver 20km

    * Declared aggregate champion

     

    Pre-Olympics, Sarajevo, Yugoslavia

    * 28th 5km

    * 9th 10km

     

    * Placed 25th Overall in world Cup Standings

     

    1984

    Winter Olympics, Sarajevo, Yugoslavia

    * 29th 5km

    * 29th 10km

    * 21st 20km (current Canadian best – event last appeared in 1988)

    * Along with Shirley only Canadian woman skier of any kind to compete in four consecutive straight Olympic Winter Games

     

    Tenrace World Cup Circuit

    * 45th among 69 skiers who earned points

    * 7 points for the season

     

     

    * Placed 45th Overall in World Cup Standings

    Winter Olympics, Sarajevo, Yugoslavia

    * 28th 5km

    * 22nd 10km (Canadian best until 2002 – broken by Beckie Scott (6th) and Sara Renner (15th))

    * 25th 20km

    * Along with Sharon only Canadian woman skier of any kind to compete in four consecutive straight Olympic Winter Games

     

    Tenrace World Cup Circuit

    * 25th overall among 69 skiers who tallied points

    * 19 points in final standings

     

    * Placed 25th Overall in World Cup Standings

     

    Retired following end of the Swiss ski week circuit in march/April of ‘84

    1985

    Great American Ski Chase

    * First Canadian to compete in all eight events from January to March

    First Canadian to win the overall women’s title

     

    North American Championships, Spray Lakes, Alberta

    * 12th 5km

    * Bronze 3x5km relay

     

    Retired after the Championships following 17 years of competition

     

     

    1985+

    1987 - Received the Order of Canada

     

    1990 – Inducted into the Canadian Ski Museum – The Skiing Hall of Fame

     

    2000 – CBC Documentary “The Olympians” “The Firth Sisters”

    1987 - Received the Order of Canada

     

    1990 – Inducted into the Canadian Ski Museum – The Skiing Hall of Fame

     

    2000 – CBC Documentary “The Olympians” “The Firth Sisters”