Currie Chapman was driving with his sister when the pair spotted Bob Swan on a sidewalk. They weren’t yet teammates, but Chapman knew all about Swan.
The only thing his sister knew, however, was that Swan appeared to walk like a duck.
“Oh my god,” she said. “He’s not very co-ordinated.”
“Yeah,” Chapman replied. “But those skis straighten those feet out and man does he go then.”
Swan and Chapman both grew up in Chelsea, Que., and were later teammates on Canada’s first national alpine team that was based in Nelson. On Saturday, several members of that original team including Chapman and Nancy Greene Raine were in town to induct Swan into the Canadian Ski Hall of Fame.
Swan, a member of the team from 1963 to 1969, competed for Canada in the 1964 and 1968 Winter Games. He said he was stunned to be included among the sport’s greatest athletes.
“How did I deserve that? There must be quite a few people who think I’m worthy,” he said. “I think of my results and think they weren’t that bad. I didn’t win a lot but it was close and I had a pretty good career.”
Swan remains a competitor on the masters circuit and a regular at Whitewater Ski Resort. Troy Trillo and Whitewater Ski Team coach Dylan Henderson did the work to get Swan considered for the induction, while Chapman and former national team coach Dave Jacobs nominated Swan.
“[Swan] was a role model for me,” said Chapman. “His passion would keep you going, and that’s what he’s always had, unbelievable passion for the sport. One discipline. He didn’t like downhill much, he liked [giant slalom], but slalom was his specialty. If you think about it now, almost everyone specializes in ski racing. Swabber was one of the first.”
Greene Raine pointed out what anyone who has seen Swan ski still knows — even in his mid-70s, Swan hasn’t lost his speed.
“You might not have had many wins but I’m willing to bet you could beat any of us here today,” Greene Raine said to Swan.
The event at the Adventure Hotel felt like a reunion between friends who just happened to be Canada’s ski pioneers. It was also bittersweet — Emily (Beauchamp) Ringheim, who also competed on the team, passed away the same day of the dinner.
Swan will be formally inducted into the Hall of Fame on Nov. 21 in Banff, Alta., along with athletes Thomas Grandi and John Kucera, nordic coach Marty Hall and builders John Fry and Russell Goodman.