All About Steve Podborski
Meet Your 2010 Assistant Chef de Mission for Canada
Hometown: Don Mills, Ontario
Born: July 25, 1957
In the sport of alpine skiing, Steve Podborski is a trailblazer and a Canadian legend. The native of Don Mills, Ontario became the first North American man to win an Olympic medal in downhill skiing when he raced for bronze in 1980 in Lake Placid. That is not his only groundbreaking performance. Two years later, he was the first non-European ever to win the World Cup overall title in downhill. In all, Podborski has eight victories on the World Cup circuit.
Podborski started skiing at the age of three. He did not, unlike most high performance skiers, grow up in a particularly mountainous area. His career got started at the Craigleith Ski Club in southern Ontario. He grew up skiing hills in the Toronto region and joined local racing programs. When he was 16, Podborski was named to the National Alpine Ski Team. In 1973 he raced in a North American tour event called the Can-Am Ski Series. In Whistler, as a crowd favourite, he placed second. The next year, his career went international.
His decade-long stint on Canada’s World Cup alpine team began in 1974. Podborski was a member of the famous “Crazy Canucks” – a moniker born out of Canada’s young skiers who would push their limits of speed with an all-or-nothing degree of style that made them much-admired on the World Cup circuit.
In his highly successful career as a skier, Podborski was ranked No. 1 in the world for more than two years straight. He won eight World Cup races in the downhill event, the first in 1978 at Morzin, France. Despite injuries and accidents in the early 1980s, Podborski would always return to post consistently strong races. Among these wins were two on a notoriously difficult downhill run, the Hahnenkamm in Kitzbühel, Austria. His overall World Cup downhill title in 1981-1982 was the result of three victories and two second-place finishes captured that season.
He is one of Canada’s best-ever alpine skiers. He captured 20 medals, and posted 44 top-10 finishes in 89 total races. He retired from the national team at the age of 26, in 1984 – the same year he competed in his second Olympic Winter Games. He finished eighth in downhill in Sarajevo.
An Officer of the Order of Canada (1982), Podborski was inducted into the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame (1985), Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame (1987), the Canadian Ski Hall of Fame (1988) and the Ontario Sports Hall of Fame (2004). He has been Canada’s Athlete of the Year twice. A member of the Canadian Olympic Committee, he was Executive Director of International Relations for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic bid.
Podborski has worked as U.S. television commentator for both NBC and CBS dating back the last three Olympic Winter Games as well as the Athens 2004 Olympic Games. He is an athlete ambassador for the charitable organization Right to Play.