Friday, December 31, 2010

Jessica Kurten Wins Again

Jessica Kurten pic SportsIreland
Irish showjumper Jessica Kurten finished her year in style winning the Queen's Cup in Belgium on Tuesday and yesterday claiming the Rolex FEI World Cup qualifier.

Winning out an international field of 36 other riders, Kurten had to wait right until the end for former world champ Jos Lansink to make an uncharacteristic error leaving her top of the field. Riding (deep breath here) Castle Forbes Myrtille Paulois, Kurten went clear in the first round and won-out in the jump-off by less than a second. Having come second in 2009 by a similar margin, it must be great to be on the other side this year.

Earlier in the week she swiped the Queen's Cup by an even smaller margin on Castle Forbes Cosma from a 15-horse field. 

Kurten wins in Belgium pic
You can read up on her 2011 schedule on her site Jessica Kurten And with this inspirational end to the year, fans will be looking forward to seeing her in the remaining qualifiers for the World Cup in April next year.

Who will you be watching next year? 


Thursday, December 30, 2010

Top Ten Inspiring Sports Women 2010

1922 Washington USA flickr
It's the time of year for polls and surveys and in that spirit I offer the women you loved the best on this blog. It's a tad unscientific as ISW only started at the end of May but Statcounter says these are the sports women you enjoyed reading about the most:

  1. Caley Lewis, Australian Muay Thai fighter 
  2. Zenyatta, American race-horse 
  3. Jessica Kurten, Irish showjumper 
  4. Marjan Kalhor, Iranian skier 
  5. Melissa Ray, British Muay Thai fighter 
  6. With this Ring - a film on Mary Kom and other Indian boxers
  7. Dr Jessie Stone, American kayaker 
  8. Irish Surf Kayak team - Aisling Griffin and Muireann Lynch 
  9. Silken Laumann, Canadian rower  
  10. Mischa Merz, Australian boxer 
You also rated this post 'Sweat and the City' on the four girls we'd really like to be. 

Did Statcounter miss any of your favourites?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Melissa Ray muaythai

Melissa Ray British Muay Thai fighter living in Thailand 

Wordless Wednesday is a group of photo enthusiasts who give words a break once a week.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Sports blog karma in the snow

Torah Bright

Every now and then emails from sports-gear companies and other sites land into the ISW inbox. Time to spread the blogging-karma before the year ends. contacted ISW a few weeks ago to see what I thought about their site. It's packed full of gear reviews and recommendations ...mostly for men but a good read. And a few femme-friendly reviews have been popping up lately - including this from lacrosse player Anna on her K-Swiss Tubes trainers. Let me know if you buy anything on their say-so. 

Sweat and the City is a new site with nutrition and workout advice for women - videos and workout tips. Jennifer contacted me on the back on this post I wrote with the same title Sweat and the City. Good thing it's not a copyright title.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Forty Foot Christmas Swim Dublin
Time for love and family - here's hoping all of you reading this are having a happy Christmas and not a Hollywood nightmare.

We are snowed in here in Ireland, well iced in at least. But luckily lots of mince pies and hot port in the cupboard so it's not so bad. Would not like to be an elderly person in this weather or dealing with small children, not fun - especially as we seem to be running out of grit.

Exercise? Running in this is out of the question for me, yes I am a wimp. Getting ready to make lots of healthy resolutions for the new year, I'm very excited about getting fit again following the health dramas of 2010. 

How is Christmas where you are?

Friday, December 24, 2010

Lindsey Vonn Skier

 Continuing our week of women in the snow...
Lindsey Vonn was named as Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year for 2010 - the first time a skier has won the award. It probably helped that she won a gold and bronze at the Winter Olympics and just capped her third world title this month. Just a little.

Vonn,26, said in an interview with the Denver Post: "For sure, 2010 was the best year I've ever had. It couldn't have gone any better for me. Even if I just won the Olympic gold medal, that would have made it the best year of my career and the best day of my life, period. Winning the World Cup races and the overall title just topped it off."

And remember Zenyatta from this post? She came 2nd in the AP poll. 

Lindsey Vonn in action

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Misschief Films Women's Snowboarding

Misschief Films make movies about women in snowboarding  - yes, exclusively sexist. We love it. 

Ps I can't find their website, anyone know if they are still in existence? This blog has some recent reviews.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Ski jumps

Camilla Stoddart Photography

PS- this is a new blog feature. Wordless Wednesday is a group of photo enthusiasts who give words a break once a week.  See Wordless Wednesday for more blogs. 

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Marjan Kalhor Skier

Marjan Kalhor
Continuing the week of snow, skiing is sometimes seen as the more staid cousin of the extreme snowboarding.

But for Iranian skiier Marjan Kalhor taking part in the Winter Olympics this year was the craziest thing she'd done. The first Iranian woman to take part, the 22-year old was quoted as saying "I'm just very happy, very happy," adding that she hoped her efforts would show "Muslim women there is no limitation for them, even with hijab they can do whatever they want and they can get here like me."

Out of the medals, this was definitely a case where taking part was the thing - she gave many interviews saying how delighted she was to be the first woman and break that barrier. You can read more from her on CNN Olympic dream a reality.

Marjan Kalhor

Monday, December 20, 2010

Tara Dakides Snowboarder

Starting our week of snow is one of the pioneers of women's snow sports, American snowboarder Tara Dakides. 

Boarding was one of those sports boys liked to keep to themselves. It's dangerous, fast and you wear cool clothes - who wants chicks getting in the way? But good things come to those who ask and Dakides was one of the women who took that to heart.

Victories in the 2000 and 2001 X-Games Air, gold at the SIMS World Championships and a few well-timed magazine covers gave the 35-year old a profile many male boarders could only dream about. Throw in a few Best Freestyle Rider, Best Female Rider awards along with the Transworld Reader's Choice in 2002 and you can see she isn't your regular snow-bunny.

Interviewed for Omatic Snowboards (which she co-owns just to get that straight) and asked how strong she still is, her reply made me laugh. "Well, I lifted up my moto the other day after I got clipped by a tree trail riding. Does that mean anything? I was pretty happy I could pick it up."

And because it's not just about the sport, Dakides is also a spokesperson for the Surfrider Foundation , fighting to keep our oceans and beaches clean.

Snowboarder guide

Women of the Snow

Royal Canal Dublin under snow
Oh the weather outside is frightful, But the fire is so delightful, And since we've no place to go, Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!

That's the theme for Ireland this winter - once again we're looking out at deep* snow and icy roads. Of course for some people, snow is the perfect excuse to get outdoors. So this week is dedicated to the women of the snow - boarders, skiers and skaters.

* in Irish terms people!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Thankless Female Film Roles

The Town
I posted a while back on MovieNewsFirst about sports movies with great female characters - took a while to find enough good ones for a list but we got there.

A reader ( Thanks Laura!) just sent me a link to this slideshow on NYMag -  14 Most Thankless Female Roles

It must have been hard to narrow it down to fourteen, just looking at it I can think of more to add already. I wonder what goes through producers' minds as they set up the films - I mean we pay the same ticket-prices, it might be fun every now and then to see actresses with their clothes on, brains intact and driving the plot?

Pic shows Blake Lively playing one of two female characters in The Town - she's a drug-addict, doesn't take care of his kids, brings the male lead down and all-round disaster. The only other woman in the film falls in love with her kidnapper. I really wanted to like this film but ...

Let's make some Christmas cheer - movies with strong women characters anyone?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

New book on women's boxing

You might remember I wrote a review of Bruising here a while back. Australian author and boxer Mischa Merz sent me on a blurb for her next book - The Sweetest Science.  She says:

"Thanks for writing a review of Bruising. I thought you might be 
interested in the next one too. It's called The Sweetest Thing - Inside the
 world of women's boxing, and will be published in the US by Seven Stories
. No feminist theory. I think you'll enjoy it more. "

That's a little reference to me not accepting that boxing is a feminist issue - as far as I'm concerned it's just a sport like any other. But different people bring different things to it.  Could be a good book for the aul Christmas list?

Any other books we should be putting on the list?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Sports Economics

Father Ted says it best
It might seem superficial to even think about sport considering the economic situation in Ireland. Comparing cuts in sports funding with welfare reductions, income tax increases and health cuts is far from comparing like with like. But yet, it's another hole chopped in our society.

Readers outside Ireland might be wondering what's taken over my head, but it's impossible to think of anything else here. Stats on the "Irish Sports Council" site show that sports only contribute " 2% of the overall value of consumer spending in the economy" which surprised me (yes, I live in a sports-bubble) but with 1.7 million people involved the impact goes far beyond money.

Now with some reports saying about 20% of overall sports funding was cut in this week's Budget, what will this mean for sports people?

And can anyone explain to me why the Horse and Greyhound Racing Fund - already topped up by €545.8m - gets another 58 million in the middle of all this?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Because I am a Girl

I just discovered this great campaign run by Plan Ireland.

They say: "Across the world, girls face the double discrimination of their gender and age, leaving them suffering at the bottom of the social ladder. Girls are denied access to health services and education, and also face extremely high levels of violence, abuse, and harassment. Girls in the poorest regions of the world are among the most disadvantaged people on the planet, so no country has emerged from poverty without investing in its girls.
Because I am a Girl is Plan's campaign to fight gender inequality, promote girls' rights and break this cycle of poverty."

The attached blog sees amazing women from different walks of life posting up on what being a girl means to them. A lack of athletes so far but Mary Davis, MD of the Special Olympics Europe/Eurasia  posted up a few days back. 

Two great quotes from her: 

Because I am a Girl I dream… of playing off a golf handicap of much less than the 24 I play off.
Because I am a Girl I remember… Eunice Kennedy Shriver and her amazing vision over 40 years ago when she started Special Olympics in her backyard so that her sister Rosemary could be included and accepted in society. Look at what Special Olympics has become today out of that one vision.

What would you write?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Inspiring Women in Sports Advertising

Adverts for women's sportswear used to be painfully girly. But manufacturers have caught up with us and some of the latest ads actually reflect real women. Comment on this is divided. I've read blog posts saying many sports women in the ads are unnecessarily sexualised as well bloggers who feel progress is being made.

My personal feeling is that being strong doesn't exclude being attractive. The problem is the line between celebrating beautiful athletes and exploitation is a thin red one. This post on Women Talk Sport got me thinking again.

Ann posted up two new ads; one from Under Armour and one from Nike. I'm posting the UA one here because I love it. They're strong, fit, focused and wearing normal workout clothing. I like the idea of the Nike one but seriously who works out dressed like that? Not in any sport I've ever done anyhow - maybe I was in the wrong line of work! Nicole on One Sport Voice had a piece on women in tennis here.

What kind of effect do you think ads like these have? 


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Choosing Christmas Gifts

First of December and it's already snowing in Ireland. That pic is from the weekend - just a little early for us really but looks like thermals will be high fashion here this winter.

This also means it's time to start thinking about Christmas presents. I know, I know it's all commercial and meaningless but there are still some people you just have to shop for. Just remember if the women in your life do sports, they might appreciate something fun more than another smelly candle.

Read this post on Pink Stinks for a look at how we still stereotype our kids when it comes to presents. We definitely prefer She-Ra to Barbie on this blog, but what do you think? Is it right to always give glitzy gifts to little girls and trucks to little boys or should we try and break the mould?