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Canadian History for Kids: Steve Podborski

March 5, 1982 – Steve Podborski wins men’s downhill skiing FIS World Cup title.

This Canadian History for Kids exclusive, looks at Steve Podborski and those Crazy Canucks.

Who was the craziest of the Crazy Canucks?

Was it Dave Irwin, Dave Murray, Jim Hunter, Ken Read or Steve Podborski?

If you listen to anybody from the men’s downhill skiing world, the answer is….all of them!

But Podborski was maybe the most celebrated.

“Jungle” Jim Hunter won a bronze at the 1972 Sapporo Olympics, and from there the craze started. Soon Dave Murray and Dave Irwin were winning and the Canadian skiers were gaining respect in Europe’s great Ski Valleys.

On December 7th 1975, Ken Read became the first non-European male to win a World Cup Downhill race. Winning a downhill race in Val-d’Isère, France.

Canadian history for kids has learned the name ‘Crazy Canucks’ came from the European Press as they were seen as skiing recklessly and taking chances. Canada had a modest ski team in the 70s, coach John Ritchie decided to focus all the limited resources on the Downhill and only the downhill, Alpine skiing glamour event. It paid dividends for the next 8 seasons.

Here are the results of the 1975-76 season: 1st place: 2 …3rd place: 1…Top 10: 15.

In 1982, Podborski, from Toronto, became the first North American to win the World Cup season title in the downhill. In total, he won eight World Cup downhill races, including the notorious Hahnenkamm in Kitzbühel, Austria, which he won twice (1981-82). In 34 more races, he finished in the top 10.

Nicknamed “Pod”, he retired following the 1984 season at age 26. Podborski was on the podium in World Cup races 20 times in approximately 100 races with 8 victories.

In 1982, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada, the highest peacetime award a Canadian can earn.

In 2006, it was announced that the four original Crazy Canucks would be receiving stars on Canada’s Walk of Fame. They would all be inducted as one group. The only other skier on the walk is Canadian skiing legend Nancy Greene.

And that’s this week’s Canadian History for Kids, exclusive

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