Nancy Greene

Nancy Greene bigraphy, stories - Alpine skier and Canadian senator

Nancy Greene : biography

May 11, 1943 –

Nancy Catherine Greene Raine, OC, OBC, OD (born May 11, 1943) is a Canadian Senator for British Columbia and a champion alpine skier voted as Canada’s Female Athlete of the 20th Century. She was born in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.


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.


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 a survey 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.

In 1993, Greene announced her support for the right-wing Reform Party of Canada."Olympic star Nancy Greene backs Reform," Ottawa Citizen, 15 September 1993, A4.

In April 2005, Ms Greene Raine was named Chancellor of Thompson Rivers University.

On January 2, 2009, Greene took her seat as a Conservative member of the Senate of Canada.

She was named Olympic Ambassador for the 2010 Vancouver games. On February 12, 2010 Nancy Greene lit the Vancouver Olympic cauldron along with fellow Canadian sport icons Steve Nash, Rick Hansen, Catriona Le May Doan and Wayne Gretzky.

Major Awards

  • National ski team member, 1959 to 1968
  • Six-time Canadian champion
  • Three-time United States champion
  • Word championship team member, 1962, 1966
  • World Cup women’s champion 1967, 1968
  • Olympic team member, 1960, 1964, 1968
  • 1968 Winter Olympics gold medal (giant slalom) and silver medal (slalom)
  • Coach of the Canadian ski team, 1968 to 1973
  • Officer of the Order of Canada (Canada’s highest civilian honour)
  • Order of British Columbia (British Columbia’s highest citizen award)
  • Order of the Dogwood (British Columbia’s highest civilian award)
  • Lou Marsh Trophy as Canada’s Outstanding Athlete of the Year, 1967, 1968
  • B’nai B’rith woman of 1968
  • British Columbia Sports Hall of Fame
  • Canadian Sports Hall of Fame
  • United States National Ski Hall of Fame
  • Canada’s Walk of Fame
  • Canada’s Female Athlete of the 20th Century
  • Olympic torch relay 2010, Kamloops BC
  • Star of "Frozen" 2010
  • Queen Of Sun Peaks Resort, Kamloops, BC
  • Awarded "Order of the Phoenix" (France)
  • Awarded "Merit of St. Ambrose" (Italy)
  • Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal