Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame Profile: Ken Read
2015 marks the Year of Sport and the 60th anniversary of Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame. In recognition of these important milestones, OLM will be featuring Honoured Members of Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in a weekly Profile piece.
Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame aims to share the stories and achievements of its Honoured Members to inspire Canadians in all aspects of life.
Ken Read: Athlete, Alpine Skiing
Read’s talent and polished personality made him the unofficial leader of the “Crazy Canucks,” a group of World Cup alpine ski racers from Canada in the 1970s and 80s. The fearless sportsman helped burst Canada into Europe’s ski scene, beating the world’s most talented athletes at a game they had never lost. With Read’s guidance, the team consistently challenged World Cup competitors at a level previously unseen.
Young, wild and always skiing at top speeds, Read was a bold athlete who pushed limits on the slopes. At the age of 19, he was celebrating his first victory at Val d’Isere, France. Read won four World Cup downhill races after that, including the Hahnenkamm at Kitzbuhel, Austria, a notoriously difficult course and highlight of the circuit. This triumph marked the first time any North American men’s team had won a World Cup downhill event.
Read was also a gold-medal hopeful in the 1976 and 1980 Winter Olympics, but unfortunately suffered a major mishap at his second games. On the hilltop his ski binding popped open causing the ski to fall off. This frustrating incident didn’t discourage the young athlete or change his love for the sport.
Since retiring in 1983, Read has continued to be engaged within the Canadian skiing community. He has served on the International Olympic Committee, the Federation Internationale de Ski and the Canadian Olympic Committee in a variety of roles. His leadership as President and CEO of Alpine Canada between 2002-2008 brought great prosperity to the national governing body for alpine ski racing. The organization saw record-breaking athletic results; it grew stronger financially and introduced new policies such as the full inclusion of the alpine skiing disabled program (Canadian Para-Alpine Ski Team). Read’s contribution and dedication to the sport was recognized in 1991 when he was made a member of the Order of Canada.
His service to others has also gone beyond the sporting world. Read launched the Breath of Life Celebrity Ski Challenge in 1985 which invited corporate teams to participate in races and attend clinics with other celebrities. The event has helped fundraise more than $3.8 million for the Canadian Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
Read currently lives in Calgary with his wife who similarly is a former racer with the Canadian Alpine Ski Team. Together they continue to ski recreationally.
Click here for more information about Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame.