Where would Batman be without Robin? Shaq without Kobe? Gretz without Mess. Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. Serena and Venus. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Thelma and Louise. The list goes on.
In light of the recent onslaught of hot performances by Manuel Osborne-Paradis and Erik Guay – and their long term successes – we’re reminded that in sports and in life two (or more) heads are better than one. Erik and Manny earned six top 10 finishes last week alone and have been pushing each other all season (see No. 2 below).
There are a gazillion examples in sports of star athletes who are made even better because of the efforts of teammates. And in snowsports, that partnership takes on a different and more complicated layer … being competitors at the same time. It’s a delicate balance to carve out your own successes while being a productive teammate.
Here’s our take on the best Canadian snowsports duos of all time.
No. 7: EDI PODIVINSKY / CARY MULLEN
When Edi Podivinsky captured a World Cup downhill in Saalbach, Austria, in 1994 his long time friend and teammate Cary Mullen was right beside him on the podium in second place. Shortly after Edi became an Olympic bronze medalist at Lillehammer, Norway, in 1994. Cary Mullen’s powerful technique was influencing the sport and he was the one to watch in the mid 1990s until a series of concussions cut his career short. He won a World Cup downhill in Aspen in 1994. Between the two of them, Edi and Cary collected 30 top 10 finishes on the World Cup including 9 medals.
No. 6: MELANIE TURGEON & ALLISON FORSYTH
These two were not technically day-to-day teammates as Melanie raced in the speed disciplines and Allison the technical events, but their back-and-forth headline garnering World Cup and World Championship results from 1999–2005 had these two warriors battling for Canadian supremacy. Allison’s career peaked when she won a bronze medal in giant slalom at the World Championships in 2003 and prior to that reached the podium five times in World Cup events. Melanie’s career started with a bang when she claimed five World Junior Championships medals at Lake Placid in 1994 and then moving on to a successful near 10-year career on the international circuit where she collected eight World Cup medals and a World Championship gold medal in St. Moritz in 2003.
No. 5: ROB BOYD & BRIAN STEMMLE
The moment when Rob blazed across the finish line at the Whistler World Cup in 1989 becoming the first Canadian man to win on home snow, then coaxing the cameraman over to him so that he could say “for you Stemmle” has forever put these two teammates and friends on the same page. Brian, at the time, was recovering from a devastating crash at Kitzbuhel earlier that season which nearly ended his career and his life. On the scoresheet, the two collected 41 top 10 finishes in downhill on the World Cup tour, including 9 podium finishes.
No. 4: GERRY SORENSEN & LAURIE GRAHAM
Even though Gerry Sorensen’s career was short, she and Laurie Graham were a major force on the World Cup in the early 1980s. In the span of one month in 1982 (Jan. 13 – Feb. 14), Gerry won two World Cup downhills, added another bronze and a World Championships downhill title. Laurie Graham was the epitome of dependability, claiming 15 World Cup medals and a whopping 45 top-10 finishes over a 10 year career .
No. 3: JUSTINE DUFOUR-LAPOINTE & CHLOE DUFOUR-LAPOINTE
The sisters, along with older sister Maxime, finished 1-2 at the 2014 Sochi Games and have been lighting up the women’s freestyle moguls tour for a few years and will likely continue to do so for many more. At only 23-year-old, Justine has amassed 39 podium finishes (including 13 wins) while Chloe has 27 World Cup podiums. All three “DFL” sisters swept a World Cup podium in Quebec in 2016.
No. 2: ERIK GUAY & MANUEL OSBORNE-PARADIS
The stats are undeniable and should have these two future ski-hall-of-famers in the top spot. With 40 World Cup and World Championships medals between them – in addition to 116 top 10 finishes on the international circuit – Erik and Manny have had long careers, both filled with injuries, setbacks and comebacks and are still charging along nicely earning a whopping six top 10 finishes in Norway last week.
No. 1: KEN READ & STEVE PODBORSKI
Two major cogs in the wheel of the Crazy Canucks team and movement that inspired a generation of ski racers, Pod and Ken amassed 79 top 10 finishes and 34 World Cup medals between them, over a nine year career. Along with Dave Irwin, Dave Murray and Jungle Jim Hunter, the young Canadian team burst onto the European ski circuit in the 1970s, and Ken’s win at Val d’Isere in 1975 was the first time a non-European won a World Cup race. Steve went on to win the overall downhill title 1980.
Kate Pace Lindsay & Kerrin Lee-Gartner (Women’s alpine – 1990s)
Erin Mielzynski & Marie-Michele Gagnon (Women’s alpine – current)
Jenn Heil & Kristie Richards (Women’s moguls – 2000s)
Kathy Kreiner / Betsy Clifford (Women’s alpine – 1970s)
Britt Janyk / Kelly VanderBeek (Women’s alpine – 2000s)
Anne Heggviet / Lucille Wheeler (Women’s alpine – 1950s & early 60s)
JP Auclair / Sarah Burke (Freestyle skiing – 1990s and 2000s)
– By Gordie Bowles. Photo: Steve Podborkski and Ken Read photo courtesy Ottawa Citizen files via Canadian Ski Council.