Nancy Greene moved with her family to Rossland, British Columbia before she was 3. Rossland is a mountainous area and the site of the first ski competition ever held in Canada in 1897. The child of avid skiers, Greene began at a young age and while in high school she competed in the Canadian Junior Championships. She would go on to become Canada's most decorated ski racer in history with the most World Cup victories, male or female.
Nancy Greene (left) at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.
Nicknamed "Tiger" because of her 'go for it' attitude and her aggressive style of skiing, she won the Canadian ski championship nine times and the United States championship three times. In 1967, Nancy Greene broke the European domination of the sport, winning the inaugural World Cup. That year she won seven of 16 events, taking the over-all title with four giant slalom victories plus two in slalom and one in downhill. Her accomplishment earned her Canadian "Athlete of the Year" honours.
In 1968 she won the World Cup title again plus, at the Winter Olympic Games in Grenoble, France, she captured a gold medal in the giant slalom, by one of the largest margins in Olympic history, and a silver medal in the slalom. For the second time, she was named Canada's "Athlete of the Year."
Following her retirement from competition, she made a major contribution to Canadian sport by accepting an appointment to the federal Government's "Task Force on Sport For Canadians." During this period Greene also did promotional work for various companies including Rossignol, Pontiac and Mars Inc. In a 1970's television commercial for the latter product she was seen to discard the wrapper onto a ski slope in the course of consuming the product. This minor act, coming at a time of nascent environmental sentiment, appears to have entered the public memory as references to it have dogged her over the years.
Married with twin boys, Nancy Greene and her husband Al Raine were instrumental in the early development of the Whistler-Blackcomb Resort in Whistler, British Columbia, and then later in the development and promotion of skiing at Sun Peaks Resort, just north of Kamloops, British Columbia. The expansion of the resort was not without controversy as some Native groups opposed the move, and protesters occupying the new site were removed by arrest under a provincial injunction. Nancy is Director of Skiing at Sun Peaks Resort and skis almost every day. Nancy and Al built Nancy Greene's Cahilty Lodge where they make their home. Dedicated to the promotion of her sport for more than 30 years, the Nancy Greene Ski League has been an important entry-level race program for young children.
Over the years, Nancy Greene has been the recipient of numerous awards including her country's highest civilian honour, the Order of Canada. She has been honoured with the naming of "Nancy Greene Provincial Park" and "Nancy Greene Lake" in the Monashee Mountains of British Columbia's Kootenay region. A stretch of Capilano Road in North Vancouver was renamed Nancy Greene Way. In 1999, her name was engraved in Canada's Walk of Fame and she was voted Canada's female athlete of the century in aSURVEY of newspaper editors and broadcasters conducted by The Canadian Press and Broadcast News.
In 1990, Greene and husband Al Raine were encouraged by the BC provincial government to pursue development of a new ski resort in the Melvin Creek Valley, between Mount Currie and Lillooet, both predominantly Native communities. Perhaps coincidentally, the rough road accessing the area was paved and upgraded at this time by the government as an extension to highway 99, the main road from Vancouver to Pemberton. Despite opposition from Native groups, backcountry recreationists, biologists, and environmental organizations, the project received approval from BC's Environmental Assessment Office in 2000, but has been stalled in a series of protests and blockades since.
From 1948 through 1980, the Winter Olympics were also the World Championships for alpine skiing. At the World Championships from 1954 through 1980, the combined was a "paper race" using the results of the three events (DH, GS, SL). Normally held in February, the championships were in August in 1966.