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Posts Tagged ‘Jackrabbit Johannsen’

The Sochi Winter Olympic Games are now underway and Canadian eyes are on Erik Guay. I recently read that Mont-Tremblant skier was now Canada’s top ski racer of all-time. As Guay tries to add an Olympic medal to his World Championship Downhill Gold and World Cup Crystal Globe for SuperG, I’ve decided that explore the question : Who is Canada greatest skier?

Skiing has many disciplines and it’s hard to compare one skier to the next. There are nordic and alpine with various subgroups within both categories. For Alpine skiers, you have Freestyle, ski mountaineer and traditional Alpine racers. Skiers like Wayne Wong, John Eaves set the seed in what would become Freestyle where the Quebec Air Force are other Canadians would dominate. Groundbreaking mountaineer duo of Trevor Petersen and Eric Pehota; three Phils, JP Auclair, Sarah Burke, Shane McConkey that revolutionized the sport. And then there is Norwegian and Canadian icon Jackrabbit Johannsen skiing actively for over one century, his impact on the sport cannot be undersold.

In the Alpine racer category, skiers like Rhona and Rhoda Wurtele, Lucille Wheeler, Anne Heggtveit, Nancy Greene, gold medalist Kathy Kreiner, the Crazy Canucks easily come to mind.

There are many great Canadian skiers and it is impossible to measure who is the best. Even if we focus uniquely within Alpine racers like Erik Guay, we have more disciplines and careers are longer than in the Crazy Canucks’ era. The best example is that Erik Guay has had 21 podiums in 11 World Cup seasons is still competing at 31 while Nancy Greene retired in 1968 with 20 podiums in only two seasons. Although she competed at the 1960 Olympic at 16 and went to three Olympics, she only competed in the first two-years of the World Cup circuit and retired the age of 24, still in her prime. Prior to the World Cup in 1967-68, they were various races, but the truly world competitions were at the World Championships or the Winter Olympics. And then there are skiers like Ernie McCulloch was illegible for the Olympics as he was a paid ski instructor. McCulloch won numerous races in North America and he beat French Olympic champion Henri Oreiller and the rest of the very strong French team after the 1948 Games. The Wurtele twins weren’t professionals, but they weren’t many World class competitions during the War years when they were in their prime. They were part of the Canadian Olympic team in 1948 games, unfortunately they got injured just prior to the competitions.

It is similar to asking the question who is the greatest hockey player of all-time? Wayne Gretzky has the most career points, but he played in an era when goals were frequent and they played 80 games a season. The same logic can apply to skiing.

Who is the Best Canadian Alpine Skier of All-Time?

Here are the numbers for Men and Ladies.

World Cup Championships
Nancy Greene : 2 overall titles and 2 GS titles (1967 & 1968)
Betsy Clifford : 1 Slalom title (1971)
Steve Podborski : 1 Downhill title (1980)
Erik Guay : 1 SuperG title (2010)

World Cup Wins : Men
1) Steve Podborski (1979-1984) : 8
2) Ken Read (1976-1980) : 5
3) Erik Guay (2007-2014) : 4
4) Manuel Osborne-Paradis (2007-2010) : 3
5) Todd Brooker (1983-1985) : 3
6) Rob Boyd (1987-1989) : 3
7) Thomas Grandi (2005) : 2
8) Jan Hudec (2008-2012) : 2
9) John Kucera (2007) : 1
10) Ed Podivinsky (1994) : 1
11) Cary Mullen (1994) : 1
12) Dave Irwin (1976) : 1
12) Felix Belczyk (1988) : 1

World Cup Wins : Ladies
1) Nancy Greene (1967-1968) : 14
2) Laurie Graham (1983-1987) : 6
3) Gerry Sorensen (1981-1984) : 5
4) Betsy Clifford (1970-1971) : 3
5) Kate Pace (1993-1994) : 2
6) Emily Brydon (2008) : 1
7) Melanie Turgeon (2000) : 1
8) Kathy Kreiner (1974) : 1
9) Genevieve Simard (2004) : 1
10) Liisa Savijarvi (1986) : 1
11) Britt Janyk (2008) : 1
11) Marie-Michele Gagnon (2014) : 1
11) Erin Mielzynski (2012) : 1

World Cup Podiums : Men
1) Erik Guay (2004-2014) : 21
2) Steve Podborski (1979-1984) : 20
3) Ken Read (1976-1983) : 14
4) Manuel Osborne-Paradis (2007-2010) : 9
5) Thomas Grandi (1998-2006) : 9
6) Todd Brooker (1982-1985) : 7
7) Rob Boyd (1987-1991) : 6
8) Ed Podivinsky (1994-2000) : 6
9) Jan Hudec (2008-2014) : 5
10) François Bourque (2005-2007) : 4

World Cup Podiums : Ladies
1) Nancy Greene (1967-1968) : 20
2) Laurie Graham (1980-1987) : 14
3) Betsy Clifford (1970-1976) : 9
4) Emily Brydon (2001-2010) : 9
5) Melanie Turgeon (1999-2003) : 8
6) Kathy Kreiner (1973-1981) : 7
7) Gerry Sorensen (1981-1984) : 6
8) Kerrin Lee-Gartner (1991-1994) : 6
9) Kate Pace (1993-1994) : 5
10) Genevieve Simard (2002-2006) : 5
11) Karen Percy (1986-1990) : 5
12) Allison Forsyth (2000-2005) : 5

Olympics and World Championships Golds
* Olympic Games and World Championships used to be awarded at the same race. The exception would be for the Combine which was only counted for the World Championships. Heggtveit, Greene and Kreiner victories got them two medals
1) Nancy Greene (OW1968*, W1968) : 3
2) Anne Heggtveit (OW1960*, W1960) : 3
3) Lucille Wheeler (W1958) : 2
4) Kathy Kreiner (OW1976*) : 2
5) Betsy Clifford (W1970) : 1
6) Kerrin Lee-Gartner (O1992) : 1
6) Gerry Sorensen (W1982) : 1
6) Kate Pace (W1993) : 1
6) Melanie Turgeon (W2003) : 1
6) Erik Guay (W2011) : 1
6) John Kucera (W2009) : 1

Olympics and World Championships Podiums : Men
* Olympic Games and World Championships used to be awarded at the same race. Podborski was awarded two medals for one race.
1) Steve Podborski (OW1980*) : 2
2) John Kucera (W2009) : 1
2) Erik Guay (W2011) : 1
4) Jan Hudec (W2009) : 1
5) Jim Hunter (W1972) : 1
5) Ed Podivinsky (O1994) : 1
5) Michael Janyk (W2009) : 1

Olympics and World Championships Podiums : Ladies
* Olympic Games and World Championships used to be awarded at the same race. Wheeler’s one Olympic medal was awarded two medals for that race.
1) Lucille Wheeler (W1958, OW1956*) : 5
2) Nancy Greene (OW1968*, W1968) : 5
3) Karen Percy (O1988, W1989) : 3
4) Anne Heggtveit (OW1960*, W1960) : 3
5) Betsy Clifford (W1970, W1974) : 2
6) Kathy Kreiner (OW1976) : 2
7) Kerrin Lee-Gartner (O1992) : 1
7) Gerry Sorensen (W1982) : 1
7) Kate Pace (W1993) : 1
7) Melanie Turgeon (W2003) : 1
11) Laurie Graham (W1982) : 1
11) Allison Forsyth (W2003) : 1

The Canadian Championships were first held in 1929 and have been an annual event since 1947. The dynamic in looking at the best Alpine racer at the Canadian Championships is slightly different. For example Jim Read, Ken Read’s younger brother has more championships than the original Crazy Canuck. Jim was one of the few Canadians at that time to specialized in the technical disciplines and won numerous championships, but never finished in the top 10 at the World Cup, World Championships or Olympics versus Ken’s 5 victories and 14 podiums. There was also more competition amongst Canadians in downhill in the Crazy Canucks era.

Canadian Championships : Men
1) Thomas Grandi (1992-2003) : 11
2) Jim Hunter (1971-1977) : 10
3) Peter Monod (1978-1982) : 8
3) Jim Read (1982-1987) : 8
3) John Kucera (2005-2009) : 8
3) Erik Guay (2002-2010) : 8
7) Rod Hebron (1962-1968) : 7
8) Jean-Guy Brunet (1961-1964) : 6
8) Ken Read (1975-1980) : 6
8) Jean-Philippe Roy (2000-2004) : 6

Canadian Championships : Ladies
1) Nancy Greene (1962-1968) : 18
2) Britt Janyk (2002-2011) : 15
3) Kathy Kreiner (1974-1979) : 12
4) Emily Brydon (1998-2010) : 10
4) Marie-Michèle Gagnon (2009-2013) : 10
6) Allison Forsyth (1997-2001) : 8
7) Rhoda Wurtele (1947-1951) : 7
7) Betsy Clifford (1973-1976) : 7
7) Karen Percy (1985-1989) : 7
7) Josée Lacasse (1981-1990) : 7
7) Mélanie Turgeon (1993-2001) : 7

Sources : Alpine Canada
Ski DB – Alpine Ski Database

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Uploaded to YT by Brad Holmes

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Radio surfing while I was driving across town last Sunday, I stumbled on an interview on Radio-Canada regarding an avalanche high in the Himalayan. The interview was with Bernard Voyer, modern-day Canadian explorer that traveled around the World from the both poles to Everest. A recap at the interview mentioned that cardiologist Dr. Dominique Ouimet was missing. The 48-years old Quebec cardiologist was an experienced mountaineer and was traveling with the Expes Group, trying to raised funds for machine for a Laurentian hospital.

It wasn’t until later that I recalled reading a few weeks ago on the TGR ski forum that skiers Plake, Lécluse and Costa were planning a ski descent on Manaslu (8156 meters), the 8th highest mountain in the World. Canadian skier Greg Hill was also part of another team hoping to ski the mountain.

Started looking for more news to find out that the whole camp was hit by a serac fall which cause a massive avalanche that wiped the whole camp with numerous climbers. Glen Plake, 48, was there and survived, but his French skiing partners and friends Rémy Lécluse, also 48, Chamonix guide and steep skiing specialist and Grégory Costa, Courchevel ski instructor were missing.

Greg Hill was lower down at a different camp and arrived on the scene for the participate on the rescue mission. There is a number of details account of this disaster high in the Himalayas (link of articles, blogs and video below).

The final number is that 11 people died with 3 missing: Ouimet, Lécluse and Costa.

I saw the video featured above over one year ago and I was looking for clips of Glen Plake for Friday Night Video. Here Glen is sharing a skiing adventure to Peru with his friend, Rémy Lécluse.

Glen Plake has always talked straight from the heart with no filters. Normally he could feel his passion of the sport clearly, this time you feel his emotions. Emotions for loss friends, why he couldn’t help them and why he’s the one that survived. You realized that through his CNN and EpicTV interviews.

Some people might say that it’s only a matter of time if you practice the sport the way they do. The people on Manaslu didn’t gamble with their lives. There were risks, but few would have imagine that the camp was in huge danger. It is also mentioned that Global warming is making the Himalayan glaciers less stable. Where is the limit?

Pierre died of a heart attack while mountain biking at 55.
You can have a uncurreable cancer at 39.
Éric died of complication from HIV+ at 36.
A crazed gunman killed Anne-Marie at university at 21.

I heard this week that 98% of us will died some day, regardless of what we do. All these people were skiers I knew, Glen and Rémy made it to 48. Émile Allais is currently 100 and Jackrabbit Johannsen died at 111. Hoping Glen can make it as far. Vibes to Glen, his family, his friends, his friend’s families and all those people touched by the events on Manaslu.

Links and references:

CBC News:
Hope fades for missing Quebec climber in Nepal

Greg Hill’s blog:
Disaster Strikes on Manaslu

Adventure Journal by Steve Casimiro:
Glen Plake, Greg Hill Survive Manaslu Avalanche that Kills 11
Glen Plake Discusses Manaslu Tragedy

Outside Magazine by Grayson Schaffer
11 Dead or Missing, Scores Injured in Manaslu Avalanche

Rémy Lécluse’s website

Bernard Voyer’s website

Videos:

News crew interview Plake arriving in town (2 minutes)

Plake CNN interviewed on Anderson Cooper 360:
Avalanche Survivor Horror : Part 1 (4 minutes)
Avalanche Survivor Missing Comrades : Part 2 (8 minutes)

Epic TV interview with Plake after the accident (11 minutes)

EpicTV has been covering the Plake, Lécluse, Costa Manaslu Expedition since the start. There have been over a dozen blog posts in the expedition HERE on Epic TV.

Ski Mad World’s Friday Night Video :
Glen Plake
Randoman and other tunes by Glen Plake
Ski Commercial 7 – Plake and Mahre together

A few quotes from adventurers on Manaslu or simply being interviewed on the radio:

“It is by challenging ourselves that we grow. I want to keep growing.” – Bernard Voyer

“Certains pensent que je suis un fou. Je skie là où les alpinistes rêvent de grimper …” – Rémy Lécluse

– “The line was so thin today, many survived by pure luck,while their friends passed away. With adventure comes risk. But I wonder how many people who died yesterday fully understood the personal risk they were taking. Obsessed with the possibility of climbing one of the world’s highest mountains, our vision becomes clouded and we perceive the risk we want instead of the reality of what is around us.” – Greg Hill

“I am probably one of the luckiest people in the World at the moment” – Glen Plake

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