Canadian female biathlon athletes strip off clothes to raise money for the sport
You know Canadian athletes are desperate for funding when they strip down before a camera to raise money and awareness for their sport. Four female Canadian biathlon athletes bared their bodies for a calendar photo shoot all in an effort to boost interest for their sport and raise funds to pay their way to 2010 Winter Olympics. The female biathletes are convinced that showing off their athletic and naturally beautiful shapes will prove to Canadian public that a female body does not need to be deathly gaunt and intensely photoshopped to look great on a photo shot.
Biathlon does not enjoy tremendous popularity in Canada, and does not have an official sponsor yet. This puts Canadian biathlon athletes at disadvantage compared to European athletes, who are well recognized and reasonably sponsored in their home countries.
Zina Kocher of Red Deer, Alta., Calgary's Sandra Keith, Rosanna Crawford of Canmore, Alta., Megan Imrie of Falcon Lake, Man., and Megan Tandy of Prince George, B.C., launched their 14-month calendar Wednesday by roller-skiing through downtown Calgary wearing shorts, tank tops and race bibs and their rifles strapped to their backs.
The women had printed the words 'power', 'aim', 'bold' and 'focus' down their bare legs. They skied boldly through the noon lunch crowd handing out cards promoting their calendar, which is themed "Bold Beautiful Biathlon."
"We're not used to taking our clothes off. We're used to keeping our lycra on, but it was a great team-building experience and there was a lot of nervous excitement about it," Kocher said.
They've had 5,000 calendars printed at $25 each, and aim to raise $80,000 to help cover their travel and training expenses heading into the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver and Whistler, B.C.
The biathletes aren't the first athletes to pose nude for calendars to raise money for their sport or charitable organizations.
Beckie Scott, an Olympic gold medallist in cross-country skiing, and teammate Sara Renner produced a similar calendar in 2001 and support the biathletes' decision to do it.
"As the mother of a daughter, I would be proud to see pictures of these role models on my child's wall as opposed to a synthetically-enhanced Hollywood star," Renner said.
The biathletes were photographed in poses demonstrating balance or strength, and in shooting positions.
"We wanted to communicate beautiful bodies, but the beauty of being active, being healthy and being self-confident," Tandy said.
"I was pretty nervous at first," said Crawford. "It's more than just raising money. We're doing this to promote a healthy lifestyle throughout Canada and showing beautiful athletic bodies while doing it.
"Usually I am dressed head to toe in clothing when I'm out there skiing so it was definitely a different experience, but I loved every minute of it."
Biathlon is a low-profile sport in Canada, ranking somewhere above ski jumping, but well below speed skating and hockey.
The biathletes don't have a team sponsor and lack the international results to draw more funding from Own The Podium.
Own The Podium, the $120-million, five-year plan to get Canada to the top of the medals table at its own Olympics, doles out money based on a sport's potential to win medals.
Biathlon Canada received $287,325 this winter from OTP, compared to the $1.1 million that went to the cross-country ski federation.
"It's time for corporate Canada to really step up and help fund our athletes," Kocher said. "This is a great opportunity for them to be a title sponsor for our team because we don't have one in our journey towards the 2010 Olympics.
"This money goes towards our team fees, towards a sports psychologist, team camps and even our World Cup tours."
Check out the calender at www.boldbeautifulbiathlon.com