Hay River biathlete leads tributes to hall-of-fame Firths

Brendan Green and Rosanna Crawford with students
Olympians Brendan Green and Rosanna Crawford (centre) meet students in Inuvik.
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Hay River biathlete Brendan Green hailed the NWT’s Firth sisters as ‘legends’ following news of their forthcoming induction into the national Sports Hall of Fame.

Green, 28, is currently visiting northern communities with his partner, fellow Olympian Rosanna Crawford, in a tour arranged by sponsor NTPC.

Green says the Firths’ admission to the hall of fame is the perfect message for young, northern athletes to hear.

“I remember, when I was younger, doing a couple of ski camps with Sharon and Shirley Firth. I was a pretty shy kid growing up but being in their presence was pretty cool, pretty special,” Green told Moose FM.

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The Firths, born in Aklavik, each competed at four Winter Olympics in cross-country skiing. Green has represented Canada in biathlon at Vancouver 2010 and Sochi 2014.

“I remember reading their Guts and Glory book as soon as it came out,” he continued. “It was really inspiring to understand more about their journey and what they went through.

“We just came from the Beaufort Delta and all these kids, they know who the Firth sisters are. They are big names up there. It ties in nicely with our tour, trying to inspire these kids.”

Read: Sharon and Shirley Firth enter Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame

On being announced as a hall of fame inductee on Wednesday, Yellowknife resident Sharon Firth said the support of her community lay behind everything she and her late sister, Shirley, had achieved.

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Green told us that’s a common sentiment felt by northern athletes.

“It was amazing how many people stepped up and wanted to be a part of it,” he said of his own Olympic ambitions.

“The community was so supportive. I’m not sure if, growing up in the south, people have that same support.”

Crawford – a 26-year-old from Canmore, Alberta – fondly remembers the reception Green received in Hay River after the Sochi Games.

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“It was pretty cool when we were here last year after the Olympics. Everyone knew Brendan,” she said.

“Canmore’s a small community as well but even there, I don’t feel quite the same support that Brendan gets.”

Green picked up a career-best fifth-place finish during a stage of the most recent biathlon World Cup, and is now using the summer to seek specialist help with back-related issues ahead of the new season.

His tour of the NWT with Crawford has seen the couple visit Inuvik, Fort MacPherson and Fort Simpson this week.

“The kids have been super-motivated and really attentive,” said Crawford.

“We’re not purely saying that [their inspiration] has to be in sport. It can be whatever they’re passionate about: schools, arts, music, family.

“It’s been motivating for me to see people in isolated communities who go out there and find ways to take advantage of things.”

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