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Inspiring Canadians - In Sport and Life

Honoured Member

STEVE PODBORSKI

Inducted in 1987

Member Details

Date of Birth: July 25, 1957
Place of Birth: Toronto, Ontario
Sport: Alpine Skiing
Member Category: Athlete

Career Highlights

1974-1984

Eight World Cup Downhill victories

1980

Lake Placid Olympic Games - Bronze medal

1981-1982
World Cup Downhill Title
1981, 1982

Norton Crowe Trophy

Honoured Member STEVE PODBORSKI
Inspire

Story

Steve Podborski was the youngest and most successful member of the "Crazy Canucks," Canada's great ski team that made history on the world's ski slopes in the late 1970s and early '80s. Altogether he won eight World Cup races in the downhill event, became the first North American man to win a World Cup downhill title, and was Canada's first male Olympic skiing medalist. Unlike many of the world's best skiers, Podborski did not come from a particularly mountainous area. He learned to ski on the slopes near Collingwood, Ontario. At the age of nine, he competed in the Nancy Greene League, a series of interclub races for young skiers organized by the Southern Ontario division of the Canadian Ski Association. He raced at the Canadian Juvenile Championships when he was 13, and by age 16 he was invited to the fall national selection camp of the Canadian ski team. Podborski astounded everybody by winning all five trial races. By the next year, 1974, he was on the World Cup circuit. It took five years before he recorded his first World Cup win. In 1978 at Morzin, France, he finished second to teammate Ken Read but was awarded the first placing after Read's skiing suit was judged to be illegal. In February 1980, Podborski left his first major mark on Canadian skiing history when he claimed a bronze medal at the Winter Olympics at Lake Placid, becoming the first North American male to reach the Olympic podium. Over the next two years, Podborski was at the very top of World Cup racing. Despite numerous accidents, injuries, and surgeries, he always bounced back and showed consistent excellence on the slopes. Among numerous victories, he conquered such menacing mountains as the Hahnenkamm at Kitzbuhel, Austria. With three first place and two second place finishes in the 1981-82 season, Podborski reached his ultimate goal: the World Cup Downhill championship title. He won the Norton Crowe Award as Canada's amateur male athlete of the year in both 1981 and 1982 and was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1983. His retirement from competition in 1984 brought a close to the reign of the Crazy Canucks and marked the end of an era in Canadian alpine skiing. Off the ski slopes, Podborski, fondly known as "Pod," was one of Canada's most sought after athlete for commercial and public relations activities, both during and beyond his glory days. He has remained active in the world of athletics, most recently as a driving force in Vancouver's successful bid for the 2010 Olympics.


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