Greene, Nancy (1943—)
Greene, Nancy (1943—)
Canadian skier. Born Nancy Catherine Greene on May 11, 1943, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; grew up in Rossland, British Columbia; married Al Raine, in 1969 (a skier).
Won the Olympic gold medal in giant slalom and the silver in slalom in Grenoble (1968); won 14 World Cup races; won the World Cup overall (1967 and 1968); named Canada's Athlete of the Year (1967 and 1968).
Nancy Greene won the World Cup in the first two years it was offered in competition, beating out the remarkable racers of her time—Annie Famose of France, the Goitschel sisters (Marielle and Christine ) of France, Jean Saubert of the U.S., and Christl Haas of Austria. The wildly popular Greene was a Canadian superstar, who would eventually sign endorsement contracts with General Motors, Mars candy bars, Jergens Hand Lotion, and the British Columbia Telephone Company.
At 16, Greene finished 31st in the slalom while her roommate Anne Heggtveit won the gold medal in that event at Squaw Valley in 1960. Awed by the ceremony, Greene later reported: "The Canadian flag was flying and everyone cheered and I think most of the girls were crying. I was anyway." But Greene was a slow start. Beaten twice by Linda Crutchfield of St. Sauveur, Quebec (who would later become a champion waterskier), for the Canadian women's title (1962 and 1964), Greene's best placement in the 1964 Olympics was a sluggish 7th.
In the early 1960s, Canada's National Team lacked funds, discipline, training, and organization. "The skiers who toured Europe, carrying the Team's banner, weren't necessarily the best racers to be found in Canada—they were merely the skiers who could spare the time and raise the capital to make the trip," wrote Greene in her autobiography. "Deserving racers without the money stayed home, and, on the other side of the coin, well-heeled skiers were able to join the Team and use it simply as a pleasant and exciting way to tour the continent."
Things began to change. Canadian skiers took over the coaching from Europeans; skiminded businessmen began to provide adequate financing. By February 1965, when a new National Team journeyed to Aspen, Colorado, for their first meet, Nancy Greene took 1st in the downhill and slalom. From the middle 1960s, she racked up an impressive series of victories in European and North American championships, but she was still not winning the important races.
In July 1966, in the World championships at Portillo, Chile, Greene flipped in the downhill competition at 40 mph and crashed into a retaining wall, tearing ligaments in her arm. Sick of failing in the big ones, she came away from Portillo "plain blazing mad" and was determined to win in 1967, the first year of the World Cup tour. And win she did. She took 1sts in the slalom and giant slalom at Oberstaufen in Germany, 1sts in the downhill and giant slalom at Grindelwald in Switzerland, and 1sts in the slalom and two giant slaloms at Jackson Hole, Wyoming. She also took the first World Cup.
In the 1968 Olympic games at Grenoble, Greene won a silver medal in the slalom and a gold medal in the giant slalom, crossing the finish line with a whopping 2.64 margin. Following the games, she embarked on another run of nine consecutive victories, more than any racer had ever achieved. "I was skiing against the greatest racers in the world," she commented, "and I was beating them consistently. I couldn't ask for anything more." That year, she won her second World Cup.
After her retirement in the spring of 1968, Greene pushed hard to benefit her sport. She served on a federal task force for Canada's physical-fitness program and amateur sport; she demanded from her endorsing companies that they also contribute to the coffers of the National Team. The Nancy Greene Ski League, established in 1968 to train children (8–13) for competition, began to turn out 6,000 junior racers across Canada. Nancy Greene, who, with her husband, operates Nancy Greene's Cahilty Lodge in Sun Peaks, British Columbia, is one of the most well-known sport stars in Canada.
Batten, Jack. Champions: Great Figures in Canadian Sport. Toronto: New Press, 1971.
Greene, Nancy. Nancy Greene's Pocket Guide to Skiing.