Ken Read vows to restore national ski program to its former glory
A few months ago it appeared as if the Canadian alpine ski program had hit rock bottom. Athletes failed to win even a single medal during the Olympics, and following the Games Alpine Canada Alpin (ACA), the governing body for alpine skiing in Canada, dissolved the mens speed team for the end of the season.
The coaches were released. Edi Podivinsky, the Olympic bronze medal winner in downhill at the 1994 Lillehammer Games, announced his retirement after a poor showing and a spate of injuries. Darin McBeath, who also struggled this season, was demoted from the national team.
Less than three weeks later, the ACA announced that they were releasing president Kerry Moynihan and would be refocusing their efforts to rebuild the team into a contender.
After months of searching for Moynihans replacement, interviewing dozens of candidates from Canada and around the world, the ACA decided to rest their dreams of future glory on the shoulders of its former glory Ken Read, a founding member of the legendary Crazy Canucks.
When Dave Murray, Dave Irwin, Steve Podborski or Ken Read exploded out of the gates, whether they were racing at home or in Europe, spectators stood on their toes to get a better look. Because when a Crazy Canuck was on the downhill course, you were usually assured of seeing one of two things: a spectacular finish or a spectacular crash.
These days, thanks to improvements to equipment, conditioning and course grooming, the downhill almost looks easy. Back in the 1970s and 80s however, the racers were all over slope, up on one leg around turns, flailing to stay in control as they cut through the ruts, and getting airborne in places where they werent supposed to. It was truly all or nothing, and the Crazy Canucks won the crowds, and more than their fair share of podiums, because they lived as close to the edge as you can get.
Read may be older and wiser, but he is every bit as determined to win as the ACA president as he was when he raced.
"Our most important priority is to put athletes back on the podium," said Read, who is based at the Canadian Alpine Ski Team headquarters in Calgary. "The very clear message here is that we want to win. I want that to be very clear for the athletes, and to do so the organization has to bring the resources to bear so the athletes have the tools to be successful."
Although the team and ACA were in disarray following the Olympics, Read feels he inherited a team that is in a good position, although the media might see things otherwise.