Thursday, 20 February 2014

Honouring an Olympian

We met Doug Anakin two years ago as a mountain friend.  It did not take long to realise Doug's smile would reveal a history of accomplishments.

"It was 1964, Innsbruck Austria (50 years ago) where Doug, Vic Emery, John Emery & Peter Kirby were amateurs competing in the Bobsled competition. At that time, Canada didn't even have a bobsled or any training facilities. Doug and the boys drove from Montreal to Lake Placid to practise.  With no equipment available, Doug wore a plastic football helmet borrowed from the school gym where he worked as a teacher. 
Canada's bobsleigh team Doug Anakin, Vic Emery, John Emery and Peter Kirby, at the 1964 Innsbruck winter Olympics.
Canada’s bobsleigh team Doug Anakin, Vic Emery, John Emery and Peter Kirby, at the 1964 Innsbruck winter Olympics.
Vic Emery, the driver, Doug sat second in the sled as here was the shortest and appropriately named (Mickey Mouse), John sat third and Peter on brakes. 
Lining up at the top of the course, Doug, Vic, John & Peter start by crouching, sprinter-like and in an instant they are off, feet churning solidly on the ice, sled gliding into motion.
The first corner, the Start-kurve, is not a problem. Then come the high S-curves.  The team gets progressively faster and the corners get higher through the next 6 turns. building toward the renowned high speed Hexenkessel (The Witch's Cauldron), the toughest part of the course, which sends Doug and the boys whipping around its big banks with intense centrifugal force.  They come blistering out of the turn at more than 130 kmp.   Holding their momentum through the next 2 turns into Burlepautz curve, they are going too fast, coming out of the turn too high.  Suddenly, the banked ice built up for the corner plum runs out as the track transitions from a corner back to straightaway.  The sled drops down, smashing into the opposite wall and starts riding up alarmingly on the right side.  Both right side runners are a foot in the air....the sled is about to tip.  The 4 Canadians lean with all their weight, breathlessly hoping they don't totter over.  The sled stays upright...barely...& the team rides on, rounding the final 2 corners & crossing the finish line with the fasted time of the day.  
Canada’s four-men bobsleigh team, Doug Anakin, Vic Emery, John Emery and Peter Kirby (center), celebrates its gold medal performance at the 1964 Innsbruck winter Olympics.
They shocked the world by setting a course record and a Gold Medal for Canada." excerpt from The Columbia Valley Pioneer"

Myself, Doug Anakin (Olympic Gold Medallist), Bob
Doug kept involved with Bobsled at the 1966 World championships, and 1972 Olympics, Sapporo, Japan as a coach for the Canadian Luge team.
After much celebration, Doug went back to teaching phys. ed  and in 1990 he and his family moved to the Columbia Valley.  When you do find Doug, he is either skiing at Panorama, or golfing in the valley.
Always a smile on his face and full of energy.  Doug is ready to play outside.  A graceful skier by all means and pretty good at playing the ukulele, to our surprise when he serenaded us at our farewell party two years ago.  
Thank you Doug for making us smile.  We can't wait until the next powder day as we can easily find you in the bowls or at the T bar enjoying a cold beer.  We are very humbled to know such an incredible athlete and friend.   Cheers!
Mike presenting Doug's Portrait

The Mountain Friends honoured Doug in the Village of Panorama with a toast, complete with hilarious stories about his experiences and adventures in Innsbruck in 1964 and beyond.  It has been 50 years since his gold medal and Doug hasn't lost his desire or energy for the sport & life itself.  

Doug with Vic Emery & John Emery  

As for Bob and myself:  Bob is skiing every day, especially since 60 cm + snowfall last week as Panorama has been magically transformed into an epic mountain of stashes, deeps everywhere you happily turn your skis.  He comes home after exhausting his now repaired fine tuned body, collapses on the couch, complete with that goofy snow scaped smile on his face.  
As for me.....hobbles and grovels, I am knitting as if there is no tomorrow.  The thought of all that snow is painful too think about.  
On the bright side of life, Bob and I joined Wilhelm and Gee had a wonderful  dinner at Eagle Ranch golf club  to celebrate Valentine's Day (of course) as well as my follow up visit regarding my fractured ankle.  Yippee!  The Dr. is very please with my progress!  The plan is to have the cast....cast away 27 February then followed by physio.  Yes, I will be skiing.  Hopefully by the first week of March.   
Golden, B.C. and Whitewater Here we come.  We will be heading towards Golden in March to celebrate our good Friend's 50th birthday (Name to be announced complete with birthday photos in a future blog)
 I plan on being in that same deep fluffy powder stash I've been dreaming about, as well as hippie hunting over a cold beer in Nelson.  I will replace my walking cast with a ski boot....finally.

Myself, with Sue & Annie the Dog
I would like to thank my special friends here at Panorama for kidnapping me and graciously taking me out for Sushi and a bit of girl time..... what a great afternoon, complete with a couple hours of knitting time together.

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