Posts Tagged ‘ski chatter’

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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After the 12cm that fell overnight in town,
+ 50cm of snow in the last week,
+ opportunity to get out and make a few turns in this very busy time of year.

I had taken the day off, because of a pile of appointments and stuff. So here is my day summary:

Cleared the snow in front of the garage in the back.
8:30 – Chiropractor appointment.
Bring my broken electric shaver when store opens at 9:30.
9:40 – Dentist appointment.
9:48 – arrival at dentist.
11ish – left dentist and went back home
noon-ish – left home to go skiing, stuck in traffic in Gatineau. 🙄
12:57 – start skiing
2:15 – end skiing and drive back to town (construction and highway on-ramp in Gatineau closed). 😡
3:00 – quick change of clothes at home
3:10 – pick up Morgane at school
3:30 – Morgane’s dentist appointment
3:38 – We were stuck in traffic, 8 minutes late again.
4:30 – Arrived home and clear the snow in front of the house.
5:10 – Walk to Tara’s school to pick her up.
6ish – supper + took more time to leave, because wife wasn’t feeling well.
7ish – left for Cascades with Morgane.
8:01 – start skiing
9:55 – last chair.

This is one of the reason why I prefer Ottawa as a ski town compared to Los Angeles. Today reflected why I loved living in Ottawa so much. Snow everywhere, pulled Tara in the toboggan from school. Skiing close-by. Ottawa is a great place for people who like the outdoors any season of the year.

Mont Cascades (not the closest) is 20 miles/30km from my home and probably a bit less from downtown. Great way to get out-of-town and make some turns. So initially I was thinking of only heading out for a couple of hours during the day, but I also remembered that Morgane wanted to go skiing last weekend. So instead of taking a 2-hour ticket, I decided to take a full-day (I had a 50% coupon).

Although most local areas were open, only Edelweiss (MSSI) and Cascades had night skiing. As usual, Fortune had the best terrain open with runs like Slalom (black) and Clifford (blue) plus one green or two, I don’t know? However Fortune doesn’t have a very flexible lift ticket option, it’s either half-day or full-day. At Cascades, you can buy a ticket for 2, 3, 4 hours or for a full-day.

Spensar wrote:

Cascade was open this week too. But, unfortunately, the website shows 6 runs open, and they are charging full pop but only 2 runs are open, 1 the small beginner run.

Other closed runs were lighted and there was plenty of snow to open them. Chicken and egg stuff folk, not enough skiers to open more runs, or not enough skiers because runs aren’t open. Either case, be honest in your marketing. I also called before going but couldn’t get a live person to confirm conditions “check out our website”.

Spensar said it all regarding the number of trails open. Although if you look at the website, it has a detailed list of runs open and while I don’t dispute the fact that those runs equal pretty much like one real run (138m vertical) with slight variance, these variations have names. I agree that Cascades is pretty bad for that, especially when the difference in those runs are just a few meters at one point and all merge together halfway down and at all together once you start off also. Okay, enough of the bitching.

Day conditions:

Open runs were perfect groomed tracks. No Eastern hardpack here. Fun stuff and some fluff on the side. 😛 Funny thing happened to me, I ended up skiing two different closed runs that weren’t roped off and though were open. It’s funny, a boarder was looking at the scenery at the top of the mountain and asked me what city it was overthere. WTF??? 😯 I asked myself, how many cities with 1 million people with a downtown core full of buildings are there around here??? When I told him the answer, we was surprised that Ottawa was so close. Tourists???:roll:

I guess someone had forgotten to put a rope at the cattrack. The first run (which was marked open on the website (but only from the middle) had a bunch of windblown snow on top. The skiing was sketchy, probably because it was supposed to be closed. It had broken artificial snow and huge piles of death cookies from the groomers underneath the powder. Next run over and my next run was the Alliance/Facade trail (blue/black). Not as bad as the previous run and down midway where the mountain hadn’t blown pile of snow and work, the pow was fun. I was going to try that one again when I noticed a Patrol had put up a rope. Not surprising, because that could have been dangerous from people who aren’t used to ski “marginal” conditions. 😛 😛 😛

You could feel the temps dropping. It was probably -5c when I started skiing, but it definitely felt colder after 2 hours. The clouds moved in and we got some snow squall. After 9 runs it was time to get back to town.

Day Log

Night conditions:

Morgane was delighted when I asked her if she wanted to go night skiing. I asked my wife if she wanted to go instead of me, but she wasn’t feeling well. 😥 Oh well, I tried. Morgane has a 5th grade ski passport which she can used to ski for free across Quebec and Ontario. Unfortunately 2 of the 4 local hills aren’t included and the fact that we were only going to ski 2 hours, we decided that it was useless to use one of her 3 free coupons for Cascades.

Conditions were still packed powder, but not as great as in the afternoon. It’s true that there was maybe about over 50 skiers on the hill compared to maybe 20 earlier in the day. Definitely colder. On our second run, Morgane lost a ski in the Powder and couldn’t find it. 😯 I never though that would ever happen on a marked trail on any of the Ottawa local hills. 😆 After 4 runs, her toes were frozen. We went in to warm up then back for other 3 runs until last chair.

So in summary, no isssh sound, except maybe on that artificial snow midway on Pioneer (top being closed and can only be access through a narrow cat-track in the woods).

Night log

List of trails and conditions. Pioneer: Natural snow??? This was the half-open frozen artificial snow run, except for the access through the woods.

Ski Map. Basically, runs 10 and 13 were all open. 11 (no night skiing), lower half of 9, plus loop beginner traverse 17-18 at the bottom. So you see, they count it as 6. Accidentally skied from the top of the ridge 9 and 7/8.

List of trails and conditions. Pioneer: Natural snow??? This was the half-open frozen artificial snow run, except for the access through the woods.

Weather maybe one hour after the lifts closed.


This post was followed by a discussion about the merits of Ottawa skiing versus a place like Los Angeles which has access to skiing not to far with Mammoth Mountain a few hours away.

Thu Dec 13, 2007 4:45 pm

Tony Crocker wrote:

This is one of the reason why I prefer Ottawa as a ski town compared to Los Angeles.

I’d be more convinced if Patrick were hitting the storms at the larger areas like a week ago or those projected for next Sunday/Monday.

You can blame that on my situation (job & married with kids).

Tony Crocker wrote:

I do not view the 400-footers as an adequate tradeoff.

I would choose Montreal as prime location for real mountain areas, however even in Montreal, you don’t have such a choice in easy access to the closest hill as Ottawa. It’s fun to be so close when you just have a few hours. That count for something, right? Anyway, without revisiting the snow on the backyard issue, that is why I prefer Ottawa over Los Angeles.

Tony Crocker wrote:

Garry lives about 20 minutes from Mt. Baldy (…) and that’s on a real mountain. We all know that he got practically nothing there during the past 2 lean seasons, but as Admin, Riverc0il, etc. keep reminding us, it’s all about quality, right?

Something is better than nothing. It’s about quality, but you must have something. As for travel time, I was talking downtown. Does Gary live in downtown LA? A few co-workers live 5 minutes away from Cascades. Skiing 4 months/year.

Here is the unbiased truth direction/time from Google.

Los Angeles-Baldy: 45.2 mi (72.7km) – about 56 mins
up to 1 hour 40 mins in traffic

Ottawa to
Mont Cascades: 27.2 km – about 34 mins
Camp Fortune: 22.0 km – about 24 mins
Vorlage: 36.3 km – about 36 mins
Edelweiss: 41.9 km – about 41 mins

I’m not saying that Ottawa is the best, I’m just saying that I would take Ottawa skiing options over Los Angeles. And some people, I am sure would put the Ottawa experience above Montreal due to the proximity of the ski hills. Ottawa hills are the homes of past greats like Ken Read, Betsy Clifford, Anne Heggveit.

Thu Dec 13, 2007 6:55 pm

Tony Crocker wrote:

And some people, I am sure would put the Ottawa experience above Montreal due to the proximity of it.

A tiny minority, I suspect.

Maybe a tiny minority of the vocal majority of us on FirstTracksOnline, however I would suspect that those numbers would be pretty close (Ottawa vs Montreal) if you take into account the general skiing public. My cousin and his family would probably be in this category and they live in St-Jean (30 minutes closer to the Vermont border from Montreal – also closer to the Eastern Townships). I did some memorable skiing with him at Jay, Tremblant, Sutton and Smuggs in our teenaged years.

Tue Dec 18, 2007 3:04 pm

Patrick wrote:

It’s snowing again… 😛


Ottawa was hit with its biggest storm in 60 years. 😛 Wonder if someone would try skiing the cliffs behind Parliament Hill? :-k

Tony Crocker wrote:

I would also note that Snow Summit and Mt. High currently each have 3x the vertical and terrain open as what Patrick skied yesterday, and I’m still not motivated to ski one of those yet.

Not motivated because you don’t live in snow. It’s maybe a Canadiana thing, like kids playing hockey on frozen ponds. 😛 Hard to have the right mindset for Winter sports when you not living in Winter. 😛

Tony Crocker wrote:

Most us have various work/family obligations that constrain our skiing. The more such constraints, the more often the skiing will be confined to the areas within easy daytrip distance. It is fortunate that Patrick is content with the quality of the Ottawa areas for that purpose. I would not be.

I hated skiing Ottawa locals when I moved here, however I’ve grown to appreciate them. Probably when you ski with young kids, you see things through their eyes. Local Masters program keeps out of the house one night a week. You don’t need 2000ft vertical to ski a slalom course.

Tony Crocker wrote:

For Patrick’s trips to Vermont, Quebec City, etc, it appears that they are usually planned well in advance, much like mine to Mammoth. So they are subject to the caprice of eastern weather/conditions vs. Mammoth’s greater consistency.

Not necessarily. 😛

Tony Crocker wrote:

For eastern skiing to be better than L.A., you need to be within reasonable daytrip distance of the better areas with the most snow, and be flexible enough to hit them when conditions are good.

I believe that Ottawa, Montreal and Quebec City are. Although I’m not a fan of Tremblant, a lot of people like the place. It also has a great park if you’re into that sort of thing.

Tony Crocker wrote:

Los Angeles-Baldy: 45.2 mi (72.7km) – about 56 mins

That’s about my distance, and it’s opposite to commuter traffic. If it takes longer, it’s due to snow/chain control issues in the mountains. The eastern travel times are expanded more on powder days than ours, I suspect.

Up to 1:40… 😆 I’ve noticed frequent traffic jams for no reason at all in Portland (Oregon), so I can only imagine in LA. 😆 Skiing is more than just Powder. 8)

Originally thread started on Thu Dec 13, 2007 1:20 am on firsttracksonline

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