• Alex 50km Lahti Champion
  • Innsbruck, Austria, Feb 4-15, 1976

    Olympic Team Paralympic Team
    Women Men Women Men
    Shirley Firth Bert Bullock Lorna Manzer Brent Munroe
    Sharon Firth  Ernie Lennie    
    Joan Groothuysen Ed Day    
    Sue Holloway Reijo Puiras    
      Esther Miller    
       Hans Skinstad    

    Again, Inuvik, NWT, dominated team selection with five of the ten athletes selected to Innsbruck. Shirley and Sharon Firth were the lone athletes to return to Olympic competition.

    Finland’s Helena Takalo and Soviet Raisa Smetanina split individual titles with Takalo earning 5 km gold a mere 1.1 seconds ahead of Semtanina who returned the favour to upset Takalo in the 10 km by 8/10th of a second. Soviet veteran Galina Kulakova actually won the 5 km but was disqualified for inadvertently using banned nose drops. She relinquished her medal thereby moving Takalo into first. Smetanina led the Soviets to women’s relay gold almost a minute ahead of Takalo’s squad. Canada ran a best ever 7th of nine teams with Inuvik’s Firths and Joan Groothuysen and Ottawa’s Sue Holloway. Shirley’s 5 km effort was 27th, one spot shy of the 1972 standard among 42 skiers. Sharon finished 28th in the 10 km as top Canadian among 44.

    Finland upset the Soviets in the men’s relay when the new ‘secret weapon’ Adidas shoe toe projection broke on the lead Russian skier. Norway moved to silver ahead of the bronze Soviets. Canada finished a best ever 12th among 14 teams thanks to Inuvik’s Bert Bullock and Ernie Lennie, Ed Day and Hans Skinstad of Prince George. Skinstad ran 22nd in the 50 km won by Norway’s Ivor Formo and 30th in the 30 km taken by Soviet Sergei Saveliev. Bill Koch’s silver made history as the USA’s first Olympic cross country medal in the field of 67. Nikolai Bajukov gave the Soviets 15 km gold while Bullock posted 33rd as top Canuck among 78 skiers. Remaining skiers Reijo Puiras of Thunder Bay and Esther Miller of Burns Lake ran 56th in the 15 km and 34th in the 5 km in their respective Olympic debuts.

    Holloway went on to become the first athlete to race both Winter and Summer Games the same year when she kayaked in Montreal.