Hall of Famer
Along with her twin sister Sharon, Shirley played a pivotal role in the introduction of skiing to Canada’s Indigenous peoples, particularly the First Nation and Inuit communities.
Shirley’s remarkable career stands as a testament to her unwavering dedication and exceptional talent, making her one of the most accomplished athletes in Canadian history.
Both Shirley and Sharon represented Canada on the national cross-country team for an unprecedented 17 consecutive years, competing in various races on the World Cup. Together, they amassed an impressive total of 79 medals at national championships, excelling in races of different distances. They also proudly represented Canada in four Winter Olympic Games: Sapporo, Japan in 1972; Innsbruck, Austria in 1976; Lake Placid, New York, USA in 1980; and Sarajevo, Yugoslavia in 1984.
Shirley Firth’s outstanding achievements were recognized and celebrated by the skiing community. She was honoured six times as the Canadian Women’s Nordic Skier of the Year by Ski Racing Magazine. Additionally, the Firth sisters were the subjects of a CBC Documentary titled “The Olympians: The Firth Sisters.”
After getting married, Shirley Firth spent over two decades in Europe, where she obtained a teaching diploma from the University of Paris in 2002. During her time in Europe, she delivered lectures on Dene and Inuit cultures at various universities, schools, and cultural centres in central Europe and Scandinavia. In recognition of her contributions and accomplishments, Shirley Firth was awarded the Order of Canada in 1987, inducted into the Canadian Ski Hall of Fame in 1990, and received the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002. Later, she returned to her hometown of Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories.
Shirley Firth’s extraordinary athletic achievements, cultural contributions, and commitment to her community have left an indelible mark on Canadian skiing and continue to inspire generations of athletes, particularly among Indigenous communities.
1976 – 7th, 4 x 5 kilometre relay, Olympic Games in Innsbruck, Austria
1978 – 9th, 4 x 5 kilometre relay, World Championships in Lahti, Finland
1980 – 9th, 20 kilometre, World Championships in Falun, Sweden
1980 – 8th, 4 x 5 kilometre relay, Olympic Games in Lake Placid, USA
1982 – 11th, World Cup overall standings
Please Note: The ski information gathered here is compiled from a number of sources; it may not be inclusive of all accomplishments.
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Shirley Firth at 1969 World Ski Championships. CSHFM Collection.
Sharon and Shirley Firth. CSHFM Collection.
Canadian Olympic cross country team at 1972 Olympic Winter Games in Sapporo, JPN [L to R]: Helen Sander, Roseanne Allen, Sharon Firth, Shirley Firth, Bjorger Pettersen (coach), Roger Allen, Jarl Omholt-Jensen, Malcolm Hunter, Fred Kelly. CSHFM Collection.
Inductees Sharon and Shirley Firth with Allen Warren, a director of the Canadian Ski Museum, at the 1990 Canadian Ski Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. CSHFM Collection.
Sharon and Shirley Firth with Canadian Ski Museum Chair, Erle Bergh, at 1990 Canadian Ski Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. CSHFM Collection.
2015 Honoured Member: Sharon Firth - Cross-country Skiing | Canada's Sports Hall of Fame
2015 Canada's Sports Hall of Fame Induction Vignette | Sharon Firth (Shirley's twin sister)