February 20, 2006
Crazy Canucks: 1980 - Lake Placid, New York
By GEORGE GROSS -- Sun Media
The 1980 Olympic Winter Games at Lake Placid were not exactly kind to Canadians and the Canadian media sent to cover the event in the Adirondacks region.
In fact, all Canada managed was two medals - one silver medal by Gaetan Boucher in speedskating behind the formidable American Eric Heiden who skated away with five gold medals; and a bronze by Steve Podborski of Toronto in skiing.
Podborski wasn't the only Crazy Canuck, as our male skiers became known over the years, who was supposed to be on the podium. Ken Read, the boss of Canada's Alpine team in Turin this year, was better known in Europe than any Canadian prime minister.
But Lake Placid was an event he'd like to forget. He was the poster child of the Crazy Canucks that also included Podborski, Dave Irwin and Dave Murray. Read was one of the favourites, the golden boy who could unseat the Austrians and other Europeans in the downhill.
But it wasn't meant to be. A few seconds into the race down Whiteface Mountain, his binding snapped and leaving the hopes of Canadians to the skis of Podborski. He didn't let anybody down and became the first North American to win a downhill Olympic medal.
I guess not everything was lost in Lake Placid even though the hockey team finished sixth.