In March, Alpine Canada named a new head coach for their women’s team – Karin Harjo. With this news, Harjo had the ski world abuzz as the first female head coach of a national team. With an illustrious career filled with shining achievements, Harjo has proved to the ski racing world that following your dreams with passion and determination leads to success. Though she is not one to brag about her status in the ski racing world, us here at Ski Racing Media are excited to share more of her story.
As the first female head coach of a national team, Harjo has broken through the “glass ceiling” and is opening the door to more female coaches to take higher coaching positions. But this is not her first time wowing the world of ski racing. When she set the first run of the Flachau, Austria Slalom in 2016, she became the first woman to set a Women’s World Cup technical course.
Humble yet excited
In regards to this current impressive achievement, Harjo is very excited. She tells Ski Racing Media, “when the opportunity came I had to pinch myself. I’m like really? okay! In one sense is it a dream? Yeah but on the other hand I wasn’t pining after it or doing everything to hunt it down, it kind of found me.”
Harjo’s story is as unique as her life philosophy. She was born in Tokyo and has been on skis her entire life. Her parents are both Norwegian and met while at college in the United States, they later went to Japan to do missionary work which is when Karin was born. Her family’s culture in Norway is very much centered around skiing, with the phrase “If you can walk, you can ski” being a central philosophy.
As a child Harjo spoke three languages, which she did not realize was unusual until her family moved to the United States at the end of Junior High and she learned most kids do not. She can also thank her parents for her attitude towards gender parity in sports, “I never saw gender as a limitation or a reason that I couldn’t do something. I thank my mom for that and my dad. I was never taught that I couldn’t do something because I was female.”
A leader in passion towards skiing
Harjo’s achievements in the ski racing world are only matched by her indomitable mindset towards success, in regards to becoming a national coach she reflects, “My happiness wasn’t dependent on whether I got the opportunity or not because I was enjoying everything I was doing.”
Passion, dedication, and determination seem to inform Harjo’s moves with each step forward. She admits to choosing skiing even when it seemed illogical, “I walked away from a really good job out of college to be a ski bum. My passion and heart told me I needed to explore. Making an active decision to be a full time ski instructor may drive my passion now. It was never a back up plan, I wanted to do this.”
Now, with the doors held open for future women to take on World Cup coaching, Karin Harjo leaves us wondering what we will see from her next.