Ken Read

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Ken Read
Alpine skier
Ken Read Alpine Skier 001.jpg
Read in 2006 at Canada's
Walk of Fame ceremony
DisciplinesDownhill, Combined
ClubLake Louise Ski Club
Born (1955-11-06) November 6, 1955 (age 66)
World Cup debutDecember 6, 1974 (age 19)
RetiredMarch 1983 (age 27)
Teams2 – (1976, 1980)
World Championships
Teams4 – (1976, '78, '80, '82)
    includes two Olympics
World Cup
Seasons10 – (19741983)
Wins5 – (5 DH)
Podiums14 – (14 DH)
Overall titles0 – (11th in 1978, 1980)
Discipline titles0 – (2nd in DH, 1980)

Kenneth John Read CM (born November 6, 1955) is one of the most respected sport leaders in Canada. This World Cup alpine ski racer from Canada was a specialist in the downhill and a two-time Olympian.[1] He won five World Cup races during his ten-year international career, all in downhill.

Read grew up in Vancouver, Kingston, and Calgary, and currently resides in Calgary and Canmore. He is the father of World Cup alpine racers Erik and Jeffrey Read.[2]

Ski racing[edit]

Read was a member of the Canadian alpine ski team from 1973 to 1983 and competed in two Olympic Winter Games. A lifelong Calgary resident, Read was part of the "Crazy Canucks", the Canadian downhill team of the late 1970s and early 1980s, that consistently challenged the Europeans with a daring racing style.[3][4] Canadian Corner, a section of the Lauberhorn near Wengen in Switzerland - the heavily twisting curve at the left-hand transition to the Alpweg is named after the Crazy Canucks, as both Dave Irwin and Ken Read fell here in 1976.

Read's first World Cup top ten finish came in January 1975 in a combined event at Kitzbühel. Later that calendar year, he became the first Canadian (and North American) to win a men's World Cup downhill race, in Val-d'Isère, France on December 7, 1975, where he was one of four Canadians to finish in the top ten.[3][5] Read went on to win four more World Cup downhill races and his point total for the 1980 season placed him second in the downhill final standings. He was the first non-European to win both the Austrian downhill Hahnenkamm at Kitzbühel,[6][7] and the Swiss race Lauberhorn at Wengen.[8][9] These two victories complemented his 1978 win at Les Houches near Chamonix, France,[10] in the Arlberg-Kandahar, ski racing's oldest classic event. Another victory in January 1979 at Morzine was disallowed because of a non-conforming suit due to a manufacturing flaw.[11][12][13] His outstanding season in 1980 was marred by an unfortunate binding release, just fifteen seconds into the Olympic downhill where he was considered the gold-medal favourite.[14]


Read was named Canada's Athlete of the Year in 1978 (Lou Marsh Award) and Canadian Male Amateur Athlete of the Year in 1980. In 1991 he was made a Member of the Order of Canada Canada's highest civilian honour. He was inducted into Canada's Sports Hall of Fame in 1985, into Canada's Skiing Hall of Fame (Honour Roll of Canadian Skiing) in 1986 and to the International Ski Racing Hall of Fame in 2010. Along with his four teammates, the Crazy Canucks were inducted into Canada's Walk of Fame in 2006.[15]

After racing[edit]

In his post-competitive years, Read has had enormous impact on sport in Canada and worldwide. A testament to this continued work to advance Canadian sport was recognized by The Globe and Mail naming Read to their "Power List" for three successive years in 2005, 2006 and 2007.

Following his retirement from competition in 1983, Read became a broadcaster with CBC TV Sports and columnist. He also launched the "Breath of Life" Ski Challenge which over the next 23 years raised over $3.8 million for cystic fibrosis research. Two movies have been produced covering the careers of the Crazy Canucks: the documentary "The Dream Never Dies" (1980)[16] and a TV movie called "Crazy Canucks" (2004),[17] which is based on a novel he and Matthew Fisher wrote called "White Circus" (1987).

From June 2002 to July 2008 he served as President & CEO of Alpine Canada Alpin, the National Sport Organization for alpine and para-alpine skiing in Canada. Under his direction, the organization was transformed with athletic results (record performances in 2007 and 2008), strong financial performance and innovative strategies. Canada attained the highest ranking on the FIS World Cup from 14th (2002) to 6th (2008), fully integrated the alpine skiing disabled program (Canadian Para-Alpine Ski Team), which was ranked #1 in the world, secured the finances of the organization including a substantial reserve fund for future athlete development, created a long-range athlete development plan (Aim-2-Win) and published a long-range strategic plan. Over this six-year period, under his leadership Alpine Canada established three National Training Centres, worked closely with Winsport Canada to establish a new glacier training venue (Camp Green at Farnham Glacier), established a snow testing lab, was a key leader within the group of sport leaders than established "Own the Podium" which enabled Canadian winter sport to take top spot (by gold medal ranking) at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games (Note: Own the Podium was the phrase used by Alpine Canada in the development of their Strategic Plan in 2003 and was loaned to the founding group) and established numerous athlete development programs to create a high-performance stream for athletes at all levels.

After resigning from Alpine Canada in July 2008, he moved to the Alberta Alpine Ski Association to work with younger athletes and athlete development programs, between September 2008 and May 2010. In May 2010 Read was named Director, Winter Sport for Own The Podium (OTP), Canada's high performance program supporting athletes and National Sport Organizations in the Olympic and Paralympic Games, resigning in April 2013. In this period, Canadian winter sport moved into the #1 position for two years in both gold medal and total medal count, topping out with 19 gold medals and 37 total medals in 2012 as ranked by World Championship results.

Read has been active within Canadian and international sport for over 40 years, initially as the founding Chair of the Canadian Olympic Association Athletes Council and subsequently member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Athletes' Commission (1985–1998). He served as Chef de Mission for the 1992 Canadian Team to Barcelona, where the Canadian Team won 18 medals including a record 7 gold medals. In 1988, Read was named to the International Ski Federation's (FIS) Alpine Committee Executive Board, overseeing the discipline of alpine skiing. In 2007 he was nominated to Chair the FIS Youth and Children's Coordination Group and Alpine Youth and Children's committee, to re-organize youth development programs for the International Ski Federation. This included Chairing the annual FIS Youth Seminar, attending FIS Alpine Junior World Ski Championships and codifying rules and organization for children's events world-wide. In June/2022, Read retired from all FIS committee work and was named an "Honorary Member" of both the Alpine Executive Board and the Youth and Children's committee, in recognition for exemplary work on behalf of athletes and the FIS.

Between October 2006 and July 2014, Read was a member of the ownership group of the Mount Norquay ski resort in Banff National Park,.[18] He resides in Calgary with his wife Lynda (née Robbins, a former racer with Canadian Alpine Ski Team)[19] and three sons, all of whom competed in alpine skiing. Two are members of the Canadian Alpine Ski Team, Erik Read and Jeffrey Read. team.[20] He is an alumnus of the Ottawa Ski Club and Lake Louise Ski Club. The Read family are members of the Banff Alpine Racers, located at Banff Mount Norquay, Alberta.

Popular culture[edit]

His World Cup season in 1979-80 was profiled in William Johnston's Genie Award-nominated documentary film The Dream Never Dies.[21]

In the 2006 episode of Corner Gas titled "Physical Credit", Oscar meets with Ken Read to try to persuade him to create an Olympic medal category higher than gold. Read responds that the other countries wouldn't agree to it. Oscar says the old Ken Read would have done it, the Crazy Canuck Ken Read. Read responds that he's not crazy anymore, with Oscar acknowledging it and then claiming that he is now useless.[22]

World Cup results[edit]

Season standings[edit]

Season Age Overall Slalom Giant
Super G Downhill Combined
1975 19 49 not
1976 20 24 9 11
1977 21 58 not
1978 22 11 4
1979 23 22 4
1980 24 11 2
1981 25 38 12
1982 26 17 6
1983 27 23 w/ GS 8 26
Points were only awarded for top ten finishes (see scoring system).

Race podiums[edit]

  • 5 wins (5 DH)
  • 14 podiums (14 DH), 40 top tens (35 DH, 5 K)
Season Date Location Discipline Place
1976 7 Dec 1975 France Val-d'Isère, France Downhill 1st
1978 11 Feb 1978 France Les Houches, France Downhill 1st
1979 10 Dec 1978 Austria Schladming, Austria Downhill 1st
10 Dec 1978 Italy Val Gardena, Italy Downhill 3rd
14 Jan 1979  Switzerland  Crans-Montana, Switzerland   Downhill 3rd
1980 12 Jan 1980 Austria Kitzbühel, Austria Downhill 1st
18 Jan 1980  Switzerland  Wengen, Switzerland Downhill 1st
19 Jan 1980 Downhill 2nd
1981 7 Dec 1980 France Val-d'Isère, France Downhill 2nd
1982 21 Dec 1981  Switzerland  Crans-Montana, Switzerland Downhill 3rd
15 Jan 1982 Austria Kitzbühel, Austria Downhill 3rd
16 Jan 1982 Downhill 3rd
1983 10 Jan 1983 France Val-d'Isère, France Downhill 2nd
22 Jan 1983 Austria Kitzbühel, Austria Downhill 3rd
  • A victory in 1979 on January 6 was disallowed after a protest due to a nonconforming racing suit.[11][12][13]

World championship results[edit]

  Year    Age   Slalom  Giant
Super-G Downhill Combined
1976 20 DNF1 DNF2 not run 5
1978 22 DNF 22
1980 24 DNF
1982 26 14

From 1948 through 1980, the Winter Olympics were also the World Championships for alpine skiing.

Olympic results[edit]

  Year    Age   Slalom  Giant
Super-G Downhill Combined
1976 20 DNF1 DNF2 not run 5 not run
1980 24 DNF

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Evans, Hilary; Gjerde, Arild; Heijmans, Jeroen; Mallon, Bill; et al. "Ken Read". Olympics at Sports Reference LLC. Archived from the original on 17 April 2020. Retrieved 15 December 2012.
  2. ^ "KEN READ – PROUD OF HIS SONS". Retrieved 12 February 2021.
  3. ^ a b Ballard, Sarah (January 27, 1988). "Wild and crazy guys". Sports Illustrated. p. 66.
  4. ^ Scammell, Ron (December 9, 1978). "The Kamikaze Canadians". Montreal Gazette. The Canadian (insert magazine). p. 10.
  5. ^ "First Cup downhill to Canada". Montreal Gazette. Reuter-UPI. December 8, 1975. p. 39.
  6. ^ "Read victorious on famed downhill course". Montreal Gazette. Canadian Press. January 14, 1980. p. 49.
  7. ^ "honor roll - the champions, men, downhill". Kitzbüheler Ski Club. Archived from the original on February 1, 2014. Retrieved January 29, 2014.
  8. ^ "Read smashes downhill record". Montreal Gazette. Canadian Press. January 19, 1980. p. 101.
  9. ^ "Read comes within whisker of third straight downhill win". Montreal Gazette. Canadian Press. January 21, 1980. p. 32.
  10. ^ "Read and Murray give Canada one-two placing in downhill race". Montreal Gazette. Reuter-UPI. February 13, 1978. p. 13.
  11. ^ a b "Ken Read loses gold medal as ski controversy heats up". Ottawa Daily Citizen. Canadian Press. January 9, 1979. p. 17.
  12. ^ a b "Illegal suit causes Read to lose win". Schenectady (NY) Gazette. Associated Press. January 9, 1979. p. 29.
  13. ^ a b "For Ken Read, a speedy victory has its cost". CBC. digital archives. Retrieved January 29, 2014.
  14. ^ Cleary, Martin (February 15, 1980). "Mature Read will be back another day". Ottawa Citizen. p. 25.
  15. ^ "Canada's Walk of Fame".
  16. ^ The Dream Never Dies at IMDb
  17. ^ Crazy Canucks at IMDb
  18. ^ Archived from the original on February 2, 2010. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  19. ^ "Read's comeback plans scrapped". Montreal Gazette. Canadian Press. May 9, 1984. p. F-7.
  20. ^ Spencer, Donna (25 November 2013). "Sochi 2014: Erik Read, Stephanie Gartner following in parents' ski tracks". Retrieved 4 December 2016.
  21. ^ Ken Becker, "No cup for this race". Maclean's, December 8, 1980.
  22. ^ "Corner Gas" Physical Credit (2006) at IMDb

External links[edit]