Monday, October 6, 2014

Three hundred and sixty!

250 Girls + 35 Ambassadors + 30 Parents/Coaches + 45 Volunteers = 360... THAT's how many people we had at Fast and Female this year! This was our 6th year hosting this event in Anchorage and I'm proud to say that Anchorage is (annually) the largest Fast and Female event in the world! And yes, I can say "world" since we are International!

Introduction to biathlon with Greta and the laser rifles! 

Most of my readers probably know what Fast and Female is but in case you don't, please check out the website which can be found HERE. It's an awesome, "Youth Empowerment through Sport" organization. It recognizes that girls drop out of sports at 6x the rate of boys.... and that is unfortunate for a number of reasons. 

Learning balance drills with the Alpine skier ambassadors 

We had some cool add-ons this year including a much-needed, highly anticipated "teen break out session." And no, I'm not talking about acne! Fast and Female covers a large age span, 9-19. And while my teammate Becca pointed out that her ideal afternoon would be to follow the primary Fast and Female itinerary (and she's in her mid twenties) some of the high schoolers seemed to be phasing out of our traditional program. That was the LAST thing we wanted so we pulled the older girls aside for their own session. They were treated to a "killer core" workout from Amy, some injury prevention tips from Zuzana and a girl's specific nutrition talk from Rikki - all three ladies leaders in their field!  Afterwards we had an athlete panel and discussion about why we (the ambassadors) chose to stay in sports, some of the obstacles we faced, opportunity (scholarship, international) and what it means to be a strong, female athlete. It was awesome and the only thing we were short on was time! I hope that we can expand this program in the future and in my fairy-tale world I'd be able to host a weekend retreat for teenage girls to discuss these issues. But first, school right?!?! 

Group shot

A moment of peace during our teen core session. Amy worked us! 

If there is one frustration for me about Fast and Female it's this: not enough time with the girls. I love the fact that we're able to get so many girls together for a fun afternoon but the size of the event makes it's really tough to have any personal time with anyone. For example, at the end I was signing posters so quickly (because our line was out the door) that I barely felt like I had time to engage and interact with the girls. At times the event felt impersonal to me but what can I do about it? It would have to be a week-long in order to engage at the level I'd like too.... :) 

 The girls absolutely LOVED the Concept 2 skiergs! I've been using the skierg to supplement my training this year and my upper body is feeling really good! 

Abby Hughs of Women's Ski Jumping USA joined us to introduce ANC girls to the sport! 

I think it's safe to say the girls had fun! 

Thanks to the UAA women's Basketball team for helping out again! 

Parents and coaches enjoyed a great seminar with all kinds of useful information including the female athlete triad. Have you heard of it? If not, it's worth a google... 

Every Fast and Female ends with poster signing! 

Co-Athlete Organizers in our hometown. Sadie, me & Kikkan :) 

There are SO MANY people and organizations to thank for making this year's event a hit.  I'm scared to name them for fear of forgetting anyone but I have to mention our heaviest hitters. Along with Kikkan, Sadie and myself Bonnie York and Joey Caternichio are the women that make the Anchorage Fast and Female World go round. They were in meetings with us months in advance, planning out every last detail to make the afternoon the best it could possibly be. If it weren't for their tireless work the event wouldn't have happened..... and yes, that is a picture of us taking a selfie after the last pink feather was cleaned off the gym floor! A huge thank you to them and everyone else who donated their sunny Sunday to help inspire young girls! 

I actually came up with an analogy for what it's like hosting Fast and Female. It's like organizing a wedding. You have your guests, your space rental, your party favors, food, music - the program. What will the first dance be? It's truly choreographed chaos. 

In addition to the program sponsors I'd like to thank my personal sponsors for supporting me so that I can take on volunteer projects like Fast and Female. If it weren't for them, I couldn't afford to donate the hours that I do.... 

It's pretty fun seeing the event t-shirts around town - this is a great way to connect with girls individually who attended the event! This was taken at Anchorage's weekly Tuesday Night Race series. 

It's time to go training but I'll leave you on this: Here is a short clip of me LIVE on TV at 6 in the morning talking about the event (before it happened) 

Have a great day!