Honoured Member Stories

Honoured Member

KEN READ

Inducted in 1986

Member Details

Date of Birth: November 6, 1955
Place of Birth: Ann Arbor, Michigan
Sport: Alpine Skiing
Member Category: Athlete

Career Highlights

1975

First place, Downhill event, FIS World Cup, Val d'Isere, France

1978
First place, Downhill event, FIS World Cup, Les Houches, France
First place, Downhill event, FIS world Cup, Schladming, Austria

Lou Marsh Trophy (co-winner), Canada's top athlete

1980
First place, Downhill event, FIS World Cup, Kitzbuhel, Austria
First place, Downhill event, FIS World Cup, Wengen, Switzerland
1991
Named to the Order of Canada
1987
Inducted into the Canadian Ski Hall of Fame
Honoured Member KEN READ
Inspire

Story

More than 20 years after his retirement from international competition, Ken Read remains one of the most recognizable faces of Canadian alpine skiing. Success on the Pontiac Cup race circuit in Canada and the Europa Cup in the early 1970s earned Read a place on the national alpine ski team. There, Read along with teammates Dave Irwin, Dave Murray, and Steve Podborski, known collectively as the "Crazy Canucks", burst onto the European-dominated World Cup ski circuit. Read's victory in the downhill at Val d'Isere, France, on December 7, 1975, set the alpine ski world ablaze. He became the first non-European male to win a World Cup downhill and served notice that the Crazy Canucks had arrived on the world stage. With expectations raised, Read headed to Innsbruck for the 1976 Winter Olympics. While he didn't reach the podium, his fifth-place finish was more than respectable and an indication of things to come. In 1978, Read began a three-year run as one of the world's best men's downhill skiers. He won two more World Cup downhill events and finished fourth in the overall World Cup downhill standings. At year's end, he was named co-winner (along with swimmer Graham Smith) of the Lou Marsh Trophy, awarded each year to Canada's top athlete. In 1979, when he again finished fourth in the World Cup downhill standings, Read was recognized by the Sports Federation of Canada with the Norton H. Crow Award as the male athlete of the year. The 1980 alpine season was an emotional roller coaster for Read. He was the flag bearer at the Winter Olympic Games in Lake Placid, leading Canada's athletes into the opening ceremonies. However, during the Olympic downhill, he lost his left ski only 15 seconds into the race. Read recovered to cap his best World Cup season with a second-place finish in the year-end downhill standings and won two more World Cup races, including the famed Hahnenkamm downhill at Kitzbuhel, Austria, the World Cup circuit's most challenging and treacherous course. Read was a member of the national alpine ski team from 1974 to 1983 and raced on the World Cup circuit from January 1975 to March 1983. During this time he won five World Cup downhill races, earned 14 top-three finishes, and placed in the top-ten an amazing 36 times. Given the talent of the Crazy Canucks, success at the Canadian championships was no sure thing. Despite this, Read won the downhill event at the national championships five times (1975, 1976, 1978, 1979, 1980). In 1978, he also captured the national combined--downhill, slalom, and giant slalom--event. Following his retirement, Read remained active in the national alpine skiing and Olympic communities. He has served the International Olympic Committee, the Federation Internationale de Ski and the Canadian Olympic Committee in a variety of roles. He carried the torch during the opening ceremonies at the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics and was the Chef de Mission for the Canadian team in 1992 at the Barcelona Games. His most public role is as a regular commentator on alpine ski telecasts. Read is currently the president of Alpine Canada and represents the national sport federation on the Canadian Olympic Committee's board of directors. In 1991, his varied contributions to sport were recognized when he was made a member of the Order of Canada.