CBC Digital Archives

Nancy Greene: A star in waiting

When Nancy Greene first broke out on the skiing circuit in the 1960s, she was called "Nice Nancy" because of her fresh-scrubbed, wholesome goodness. With time, Greene earned herself a new nickname — Tiger — because of her technical superiority and extraordinary fearlessness. CBC Archives explores Greene's metamorphosis from rookie skier to Olympic champion to Athlete of the Century.

Greatness in skiing is often determined by how well you stack up against the Europeans. Few have fared well in that respect, but a select group of Canadians have managed to compete successfully against the best the world has to offer. CBC Digital Archives takes a look back at names like Wheeler, Heggtveit, Greene, and of course the remarkable "Crazy Canucks."

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"Right now I'm the winner of the World Cup, supposedly the best woman racer in the world, but that can change so quickly," Nancy Greene explains. She pauses, smiles, and shrugs her shoulders. "I don't know, maybe I'm just not satisfied yet." In this CBC feature, Greene prepares for another shot at the World Cup and the 1968 Olympics, a star in waiting.

At 24, Greene has outgrown her prodigy status. With more than 10 years of racing experience, Greene is now considered the grand old dame on the ladies' Canadian team. Over the course of the next year, Greene will have to maintain a fine balance. She needs to be confident but not cocky, fearless but not reckless. 
. The World Cup was the brainchild of Serge Lang, a sports writer for the newspaper L'Equipe based in France. Before 1967, skiers didn't compete in a standard racing circuit and no definitive champion was named. With the advent of the World Cup, skiers raced in nine designated World Cup meets. In Greene's era, the racer's three best scores in the downhill, slalom and giant slalom events were tallied to determine the winner.

. Greene steadily picked up wins in the first year of the World Cup (1967) but lost the lead when she took a break from the racing circuit and returned to Canada to compete in sponsored races. By the final race, Greene was in third place. She needed to capture first place to win the first-ever World Cup championship. While many placed their bets on Greene's rival, France's Marielle Goitschel, Greene was sure of her ability to win.

. "I started to move to the starting line and Marielle Goitschel called over, 'Good luck. May the best one win.' 'Thanks,' I called back, and it was just on the tip of my tongue to add, 'I will.' I will win - it may sound a little cocky now but that's how certain I felt and I pushed off. It was one of the best runs I've ever made in my life." - Nancy Greene, Nancy Greene: An Autobiography.

. "Tiger" was Greene's self-designated nickname. She chose the moniker during the 1965 season when the ski team hired an artist to paint their ski helmets. The rest of the Canadian ski team had their nicknames emblazoned on their helmets. "I've never had a nickname...I said, 'OK, put Tiger on," she told BC Report (March 11, 1996). Esso's tiger-in-the-tank advertising campaign served as Greene's inspiration.
Medium: Television
Program: The Way It Is
Broadcast Date: Nov. 19, 1967
Guest(s): Nancy Greene
Host: Warren Davis, John Saywell
Reporter: Carl Charlson
Duration: 7:24

Last updated: March 20, 2012

Page consulted on June 20, 2014

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