Ski Canada Magazine

Crazy Canucks


On December 7, 1975, Ken Read became the first non-European man to step atop a World Cup downhill podium. Two weeks later, Dave Murray did the same. The era of the Crazy Canucks had begun.

Consider Canada in 1975. The country’s centennial eight years earlier had promised much about a nation coming into its own, ready to take on the world, but was anyone paying attention? Only 10 years earlier, we’d rolled up the Union Jack and unfurled our new and distinct Maple Leaf—and we were looking for reasons to wave it. Then along came four young men in form-fitting body suits who blew the European ski establishm­ent off their crusty cornice.

Between 1974 and 1983 Canada’s men’s alpine ski team, represente­d by Dave Irwin, Ken Read, Dave Murray and Steve Podborski, won 14 races, climbing the podium 39 times. Podborski himself added an Olympic bronze in Lake Placid in 1980 and a World Cup downhill title to the haul. It wasn’t just the races they won, but the way they won them. They were brash, daring, reckless, but also friendly and fun. Yes, Canadians were cheering for them back home, but suddenly Canada was cool in the Alps, too.

The era ended in 1983. That was also the fourth year in a row that Canadians won the feared Streif course that streaks down the infamous Hahnenkamm in Kitzbühel, Austria, the most dangerous on the World Cup circuit. Except the 1983 race was won not by one of the original four Crazy Canucks, but by the younger Todd Brooker. Like all Canadian skiers who came after him, Brooker took a path to victory through a deep trench carved by the four men who firmly establishe­d Canada’s place on the podium.

 ?? ?? Frequent flyer Steve Podborski.
Frequent flyer Steve Podborski.

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