It's all downhill from here

JODY VANCE -- 24 Hours Toronto

, Last Updated: 7:32 AM ET

If you are like me you remember a time when the Canadian men's alpine ski team was a force to be reckoned with on the great mountains of the world.

It was waaaaaay back in the late '70s and early '80s when Steve Podborski, Dave Murray, Dave Irwin and Ken Read brought a kamikaze mentality to the sport and caught the hearts of every sports fan in this country as they became "The Crazy Canucks."

Every race weekend felt like the Stanley Cup final with your team in it.

Every time one of "our guys" was in that starter's hut, we had a shot at the top of the podium. It was something special.

Families would schedule TV weekend viewing around the downhill races and rooms would fall silent when one of those boys hit the course.

To this day my heart races at just how fearlessly these men threw themselves off mountaintops -- with complete and utter disregard to personal injury.

Now, 30-odd years later we are looking at a new troupe of Canadian daredevils ready to recapture a new generation of alpine fans. Wooing those youngsters back from the loud music and flash of the snowboarding half-pipe is no easy task, but nothing draws a crowd like a winner.

I predict that the resurgence of fearlessness in our present-day national squad will see many young eyes turn their attention to the steep slopes of the downhill circuit.

Kudos to Ken Read who is delivering on his promise to gather, and bring back to glory, those who would follow in his tracks.

When Vancouver won the bid to host the 2010 Olympic Games we began to hear his promise to get this program back to the podium with regularity -- today we can see that he is a man of his word and not so crazy after all.

Get to know these names: John Kucera, Thomas Grandi, Erik Guay, Michael Janyk, Francois Bourque and Jean-Phillipe Roy or run the risk of being called a bandwagon jumper when the world comes to Whistler and races are stacked with "hometown favourites."

Look out world. here come the Canadian Cowboys.

Jody Vance is a sportscaster with Leafs TV. Her columns appear Tuesdays and Thursdays in 24 hours. jody.vance@tor.sunpub.com


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