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Webisode - Lucile Wheeler's Ski Helmet
[Narrator - Rylan Strachan]
[Image of Lucile Wheeler with skiis, Lucile Wheeler's leather helmet]
Following the Second World War, a number of female athletes paved the way for the Canadian Women's Alpine Ski Team's rise to dominance in the international community. Lucile Wheeler's leather ski helmet symbolizes how helmets and athletes adapted to changes in skiing.
[Early images of women and men skiing]
Before modern alpine racing was developed in the 1850's, skiers did not use helmets. Safety became a concern in competitions as technology improved and speeds increased. Early designs were directly influenced by cycling helmets.
[Images of Lucile Wheeler as an adult and at age two, image of Wurtele twins]
Lucile Wheeler was born to ski. Raised near the Laurentian Mountains, she started skiing at age two, entered her first major competition in Quebec at age ten, and competed internationally by age 15. She was inspired by the Wurtele twin's athletic success.
[Action images of Lucile Wheeler and Nancy Greene skiing]
In 1956, Wheeler became the first Canadian to win an Olympic ski medal. She was one of the first Canadian skiers to wear a helmet designed for skiing. Although the leather helmet with sponge interior did not provide much protection, it increased her confidence. She became the first Canadian to win two gold medals at the 1958 World Championships.
Hard shell helmets became a requirement after metal skis were introduced and speeds rose. Despite the excessive weight of the helmet, skier Nancy Greene persevered and captured Canada's first Olympic gold medal in 1968. This brought improved funding and recognition of the sport
[Images of skiiers wearing different helmets]
In the 1970's, helmets were made from a specialized plastic called ABS instead of fibreglass. These models were cheaper to make and were marketed to the public. Since then, the number of participants wearing helmets has steadily increased.
[Images of Kerrin-Lee Gartner and Lauren Woolstencroft]
A woman of many firsts, Wheeler was part of a supportive community of pioneers from the Canadian Women's Alpine Ski Team that continues to inspire female skiers to excel today.