Canadian Sports Legends: Where Are They Now? .... Nancy Greene

Other Oct 07, 2020

Nancy Catherine Greene was born on May 11, 1943 in Ottawa, Ontario.  Her parents had been transferred to Ottawa during the War, but soon after returned to the Kootenays and settled in Rossland where Nancy did her early skiing on the local Red Mountain.  Greene grew up in a Ski-Crazy family – Nancy, her two sisters and three brothers all skied from the age of three.  Nancy started ski racing during high school and in 1958 she won her first trophy, placing second to her sister Elizabeth in the Canadian Junior Championships.  Nancy’s strategy was simple “Just go like hell” - this daredevil attitude earned her the nickname “Tiger” of the slopes.

Two years later, at the age of 16, Nancy and her sister were both on the Canadian National Team for the 1960 Olympics in Squaw Valley and again in 1964 in Innsbruck – these two Olympics saw modest results for Nancy but the hunger for the podium grew stronger.  In 1967 Greene won the inaugural World Cup in alpine skiing, breaking the European dominance that had kept her off the podium for so long.  As the 1968 Olympics approached, Nancy was a favourite to win in all three ski events, but an ankle injury just a month before the Games jeopardized her chances. Nancy’s determination to compete allowed her to overcome the injury and she lead her team as Canada’s flag bearer for the opening ceremonies in Grenoble.  A disappointing tenth place finish in the opening downhill  left Nancy feeling nervous, but she rebounded and secured the Silver in the slalom the following day.  Nancy saved the best for last, attacking the giant slalom course with everything she had, crossing the line with a 2.68 second lead, a decisive victory that secured the Gold medal.   Greene harnessed the momentum of her Olympic success and went on to capture her second consecutive World Cup title in 1968. Greene returned to Canada a hero, being greeted at the airport by thousands of adoring fans ... all dressed in green!

Nancy won a total of thirteen individual World Cup events in a two year period (1967-68). The next best Canadian record is five wins in ten years.  Greene’s memorable skiing career included 13 World Cup victories and 17 Canadian championships in all disciplines.  In 1968 Greene retired from competitive skiing at the age of 24.

Greene’s career highlights and achievements include:

  • Winner of the inaugural Women’s World Cup (1967) and again in 1968
  • Named Canadian Athlete of the Year in both 1967 & 1968
  • Voted “Top BC Athlete of the Century”
  • Inducted to Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame and the US National Ski Hall of Fame.
  • In 1999 Nancy was voted named Canada’s Female Athlete of the Century in a poll by Canadian Press and Broadcast News Association
  • Awarded Order of Canada

What’s Nancy doing now?

After retiring from competitive skiing, Nancy embarked on a busy promotional career, then married Al Raine, head coach and program director of the National Ski Team.  Nancy and Al have dedicated their lives to developing ski tourism in their home province.  They were instrumental in the early development of Whistler Resort and in 1995 relocated to Sun Peaks Resort, where they again pioneered a new destination resort.  Greene started the Nancy Greene Ski League which is the grassroots development program for entry level ski racers across Canada.   In 2009 Greene was appointed as Senator for British Columbia for the Government of Canada, she retired from the Senate in 2018.  Nancy continues to be highly involved in Canada’s ski programs and has returned to Sun Peaks to continue to pursue her true passion … promote and teach the sport she loves.