Friday, June 21, 2002 - Athlete Perspective
Farewell to the Fortiers

By: Sara Renner

After an Olympic year athletes retire. My dad once asked me when I was going to “stop skiing around in circles”. In the very practical sense, I guess this is what we do. My response was I would stop as soon as I got tired. This year, both Fortier sisters, Amanda and Jaime announced that they would end their competitive racing to pursue other great things in life.

We always knew we had it good. Five women travelling the World Cup Circuit is destined to be a fabulous time. When we were racing in St. Petersburg we saw the Russian Ballet performing Swan Lake. We have rafted in Oregon, had saunas in Finland, ran into moose in Wyoming, pied each other on our birthdays and breakdanced at World Cup parties. Our parents bravely sent us unaccompanied to the American Spring Series in a rusty jeep with a letter of permission stating we were minors but not on the run. We can claim that we have found the best polsas in Olso. They are a Norwegian national treasure, usually located on a rotating grill at gas stations, have a shelf life of at least two weeks and resemble a hotdog only their composition is a bit more mysterious. We have laughed and cried together and sometimes I think that my teammates might know me better than anyone else.

Stephania Belmondo, the Italian Olympic gold medallist, told us that we looked like the team who had the most fun. I looked around the cafeteria where we were eating and realized that the eastern Europeans where quiet as monks and most of the noise was coming from us. She was right.

In my first ski race, Jaime was so ridiculously far in front of me. I was in awe when I found out that she had already been to her first National Championships at 13 years old. Asides from Beckie Scott, she was the first athlete on our team to score World Cup points and make the rest of us believers. When we won the silver medal in the World Cup relay, Jaime started on the second Canadian team and won the first leg. The most I saw of her was her butt as she skied away from me. She definitely deserves half of that medal.

Her sister Amanda, who also stunk of talent from a young age, blew everyone away with an eighth place finish at her first World Junior Championships and continued to turn heads in international competition. Although she was small in stature, she was a feisty competitor and gave no respect when hunting down the Nordic powerhouses.

The reality of cross country skiing is that you have to have both feet in the frying pan and after awhile your feet get hot. For the last ten years, the Fortier sisters have had unwavering commitment to their skiing and education, incredible work ethic and have lead with integrity. That takes unprecedented motivation and courage.

Our women’s team is now composed of three, Beckie Scott, Milaine Theriault and myself. Their absence leaves a huge hole, but at the same time it is an opportunity for other women to show their grit and rise to the challenge. Although they will be missed as stellar Canadian competitors, I am going to miss them more as being quality teammates.


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