Wheeler discusses her training regimes in Quebec, and sometimes with men in Europe. She believes her strong skiing technique led to her success. She then explains how the Canadian Alpine Ski Team wasn’t as developed as European teams in the 1950’s. She also talks about her 1956 Olympic Bronze medal, and winning Female Athlete of the Year.

Creator: Bruce Weir

© 2012, Canada's Sports Hall of Fame. All Rights Reserved.


Transcript

I think throughout my lifetime I had always had the opportunity of very good technical training in skiing. May not have had the terrain of Europe but of course the ski school, Great Snow Eagle Ski School at Gray Rocks was very well known and so I was very fortunate I think to have a basic good technique so that when I was in Europe and watched the other racers, and I watched I guess mostly the top men racers and often skied and trained with them, I was able to pick up what I wanted to learn.

When we first went over to the 1952 Olympics we went directly to the Olympics and had never competed internationally. Most of the countries had national teams and we did not. And the only time we came together as a team was when there was an Olympics or World Ski Championships. And it would only be for a short period before the Olympics or World Championships. And then once those events were over we were on our own. So I would say that probably was a bit of a disadvantage.

The downhill in 1956 Olympics was a tremendous learning experience. The top of the course was extremely steep and I always remember my coach just before starting a training run, he said to me, he said, “Cile, why do you go where the cows go?” Because in Austria and Italy and Switzerland in the summer time the cows are up in those areas. And so I could kind of picture the cow path down through these gates and all of a sudden I saw the line that he wanted me to take. And so there was no turning back. So it was amazing how one sentence changed a great deal for me.

Winning the Bronze medal in 1956 certainly made me think that I could do more, could do better and I had been able to return to Europe in 1957 and race in what was called an In-Between Season, and I was the first Canadian to win the Hahnenkamm, I won the downhill and combined. And at the ’58 World Championships I felt that I should win and trained hard to win and I remember when I came down and had won the downhill and my very close friend Gigi Seguin from Quebec City came over and said you won. And I said no I didn’t, and we almost got into quite a severe argument about as to whether I won or not. And then two days later winning the Giant Slalom, a lot of pressure was off me, so perhaps that was a little easier to win.

It’s always a tremendous thrill to be selected to win an award such as the Bobbie Rosenfeld Award and it’s just a great feeling to be a part of that and included with all the other names that are on that trophy.


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