Canadian Sports Legends: Where Are They Now? .... Steve Podborski

Other Sep 23, 2020

Steve Gregory Podborski was born on July 25th, 1957 in Toronto, Ontario.  After his parents strapped young Steve in to his first pair of skis at the age of two and half, Podborski quickly learned to ski on hills that would be considered speed bumps by his future teammates hailing from BC, Alberta and Quebec.  Steve however took full advantage of what he was given and quickly lit up the local Ontario ski circuit.  By 1973, at the age of 16, he made the Canadian alpine ski team and in 1974 made his World Cup debut.  Podborski scored two top ten finishes in his first World Cup season, an impressive achievement for a rookie.

Podborski was a key member of the legendary Crazy Canucks, the Canadian ski team that earned a reputation for fast and seemingly reckless skiing in the downhill event.  What the Crazy Canucks lacked in funding, training and coaching, they made up for with team work and perseverance – in Steve’s words "In an individual sport, we acted like a team”.  Together with Jungle Jim Hunter, Dave Irwin, Dave Murray & Ken Read, the Crazy Canucks started making headlines in the mid-70’s and were a force to be reckoned with leading in to the 1976 Winter Olympics in Innsbruck.  Sadly, Podborski’s Olympic debut was derailed when he ruptured two knee ligaments in an accident just before the Games.  He did get a chance to achieve Olympic glory when he won the bronze medal in the downhill at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid.

In 1982, Podborski became the first non-European to win the World Cup season title in downhill ski racing – to this day he remains the only North American to do so.  In total, he won eight World Cup downhill races, including the notorious Hahnenkamm in Kitzbühel, Austria, which he won twice (1981–82). He appeared on the podium in 20 World Cup races and finished top 10 in another 34 competitions.  After securing his Legend status, Steve retired following the 1984 season at age 26.

Podborski’s career highlights and achievements include:

  • First (and only) North American to win the World Cup season title in the downhill.
  • Bronze medal finish in the 1980 Olympic downhill event in Lake Placid
  • Winner of eight World Cup downhill races,
  • On the podium in 20 World Cup races
  • Was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1982
  • He was inducted into the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame in 1985, Canada's Sports Hall of Fame in 1987, the Canadian Ski Hall of Fame in 1988, and the Ontario Sports Hall of Fame in 2004.

What’s Steve doing now?

Following his retirement, Steve worked as a TV commentator, covering freestyle skiing at Salt Lake City 2002 and Turin 2006 and snowboard at Nagano 1998. Steve has also become deeply involved in the Olympic movement, as Executive Director for the successful Vancouver 2010 Olympic Bid, Assistant Chef de Mission for the Vancouver Games and as the Chef de Mission for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.  He has also been actively involved in the business world taking on senior leadership roles within TELUS as well as pursuing his entrepreneurial passions, recently launching an online performance measurement App.

Steve is also dedicated to giving back to the community and is involved with a range of charities.  From 2016 to 2019 he was the President and CEO of Parachute, Canada’s national injury prevention foundation.  He also sits on the Board of the Canadian Olympic Foundation, Parachute Canada, the Canadian Snowsports Association, the Canadian Ski Foundation, and Winterstart (Lake Louise World Cup Alpine ski races).

Steve and his family share their time between Whistler, B.C. and Fogo Island, Newfoundland.