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Other Sports - 02. February 2009.

Olympic/Paralympic Involvement dominates CAAWS 2008 List -- Most Influential Women in Sport and Physical Activity


From the Beijing Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games to the organization and preparation for the 2010 Games in Vancouver, the impact of the Olympics and Paralympics is evident on the 2008 list of Most Influential Women in Sport and Physical Activity. 


The list is compiled by the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport and Physical Activity (CAAWS).  Twenty women were named to the 2008 version, which recognizes women who have made a significant impact as academics, athletes, administrators, advocates, broadcasters, coaches, executives, fundraisers, managers, officials, psychologists and volunteers.  Their selection to the list reflects their influential activity in the calendar year 2008.


This is the seventh time CAAWS has announced its Most Influential Women list. Fredericton, NB’s Nicole Smith, Chair of the CAAWS Board of Directors outlined how the list reflects the significant sport and physical activities in Canada, “Women were very involved in Canada’s successful athletic accomplishments in Beijing at the Olympic and Paralympic Games. And, as we prepare to host the 2010 Games in Vancouver, we see many influential Canadian women leading the way. It is also interesting to see the spectrum of women who are named to the list, from young athletes, to women still competing at the Masters level and those who contribute in many other aspects of sport and physical activity. Because of the depth of women who have chosen to be involved at both the national and international level, Canadian women are leaving an indelible mark on the world stage as well.


Women associated with the Beijing games include:  gold medalist Carol Hunyh; Canadian athlete of the year, Chantal Petitclerc, fencing competitor and coach Jujie Luan, sports psychologist Penny Werthner, the COC’s Executive Director of Olympic Preparation Carol Assalian, COC Chef de Mission Sylvie Bernier, official Slava Corn, and broadcasters Robin Brown and Marie-Josée Turcotte.  Named to the list with a direct involvement with the 2010 Games include Cathy Priestner Allinger, the Executive Vice President - Sport, Paralympic Games and Venue Management for VANOC; and Donna Wilson, Executive Vice President – Workforce and Sustainability, for VANOC.

New names on the list this year are Newfoundland’s Mary Bluechardt who is working on the Long-Term Athlete Development expert panel; Ottawa’s Abby Hoffman for her work to have women sit on International Association of Athletics Federation’s committees; and Calgary’s 74-year old Master’s runner, Helly Visser.


Returning to the list were Melody Davidson, General Manager and Coach of the National Women’s Hockey Team; Sheryn Posen, the Chief Operating Officer of Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame; Carla Qualtrough, the President of the Canadian Paralympic Committee; skier and climate change advocate Sara Renner; fundraiser Jane Roos who continues to encourage financial support for Canada’s elite athletes; and Beckie Scott who contributes through her work on boards of directors.


Young women whose influence is being noticed were named as “Ones to Watch”.  The Canadian Women’s Ski Jump Team were cited for their legal fight to have their sport included in the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games.  As well, freestyle skier Kristi Richards of Pemberton, BC was included as a result of her work to help others through her Supporting the Dream Legacy Fund. 


The 2008 Most Influential Women (in alphabetical order) are:

Carol Assalian, Ottawa, ON

Sylvie Bernier, Rosemère, Quebec

Mary Bluechardt, St. John’s, Nfld.

Robin Brown, Toronto, ON

Slava Corn, Toronto, ON

Melody Davidson, Calgary, AB

Abby Hoffman, Ottawa, ON

Carol Huynh, Calgary, AB

Jujie Luan, Edmonton, AB

Chantal Petitclerc, Montreal, QC

Sheryn Posen, Toronto, Ontario

Cathy Priestner Allinger, Vancouver, BC

Carla Qualtrough, Vancouver, BC

Sara Renner, Canmore, Alberta

Jane Roos, Toronto, Ontario

Beckie Scott, Panorama, British Columbia

Marie-Josée Turcotte, Montreal, QC

Helly Visser, Calgary, AB

Penny Werthner, Ottawa, ON

Donna Wilson, Vancouver, BC

Ones to Watch

Canadian Women’s Ski Jump Team

Kristi Richards, Pemberton, BC


Many of the women named to the CAAWS list were nominated by colleagues and the general public.  The final list was compiled by the CAAWS selection panel from both public nominations, and contributions from knowledgeable sport and physical activity leaders. The panel reviewed the submissions and based its decision on the scope of activities in the 2008 calendar year.

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photos Janos Schmidt 

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