Hall of Famer

Brian Stemmle

Affiliated Discipline(s): Alpine
Hometown: Aurora, ON
Active Career Period: 1985 - 1999
Induction CSHF: 2002
Induction Category: Alpine: Downhill, Super G
Brian Stemmle c. 1996-97. Alpine Canada Alpin.

Brian Stemmle joined the Canadian Alpine Ski Team in 1985, announcing his retirement 14-years later in July 1999: “I put my heart into ski racing for 14 years and have made so many great friends. I have been able to experience the highs and some of the lows of competing on the edge”. His rise to prominence on the Federation Internationale de Ski (FIS) World Cup circuit was more rapid than any Canadian skier preceding him. In just two seasons, his natural talent made him the 7th ranked downhill competitor in the world.

Four years after he joined the national team, in 1989, while racing on the famed and notoriously difficult Hahnenkamm course at Kitzbuhel, Austria, his skis caught in the netting on the treacherous Steilhang section resulting in a near-fatal crash considered among the worst in ski racing history. So extensive were his injuries – he suffered massive internal injuries – that he spent 3-months recovering in hospital followed by 18-months, seven to eight hours a day, of rehabilitation. It seemed most unlikely that he would ever return to competitive skiing, but he did. One French journalist observed that the only way it could have been more spectacular was if Stemmle had come back from the dead. Such was his courage that he eventually returned to the World Cup circuit, won a Gold medal at the Pan Am Winter Games, and closed the book on Kitzbuhel by racing on the Hahnenkamm again on January 15, 1994, five years after his accident.

He finished in 14th place, a remarkable effort, and a tribute to his mental toughness.

His appearance at four Olympic Winter Games remains unmatched by any other Canadian Alpine skier in history – in 1988 at Calgary Alberta; 1992, Albertville, France; 1994, Lillehammer, Norway and 1998 Nagano, Japan.

In his 15-years of competition at the international level, 1985 to 1999, he competed in Federation Internationale de Ski (FIS) races, on the FIS World Cup circuit and World Championships 93 times, placing in the top-10 on 15 occasions, and standing on the podium 7-times (2-Gold medals, 2- Silver and 3- Bronze). Although he was best known as a downhill specialist, he was also adept at Super G, his best placing being a World Cup 3rd at Furano, Japan, in 1985

Competitive record in major Canadian and North American competition (top ten finishes)

1995
3rd place, Downhill, Nor-Am Cup, Whitefish, USA 3rd place, Nor-Am Cup, Whitefish, USA

2nd place, Downhill, Canadian National Championships, Mont Ste Anne, Quebec
1st place, Super G, Canadian National Championships, Mont Ste Anne, Quebec
1st place, Super G, Nor-Am Cup, Whistler, British Columbia

1996
3rd place, Downhill, Canadian National Championships, Mont Ste Anne, Quebec

1999
3rd place, Downhill, Canadian National Championships, Sun Peaks, British Columbia
1st place, Super G, Canadian National Championships, Sun Peaks, British Columbia

Competitive record in Federation Internationale de Ski (FIS) races, on the FIS World Cup circuit and World Championships (top ten finishes)

1985
3rd place, Super G, FIS World Cup, Furano, Japan

1986
7th place, Downhill, FIS World Cup, Val Gardena, Italy

1987
3rd place, Downhill, FIS World Cup, Val Gardena, Italy
9th place, Downhill, FIS World Cup, Val d’Isere, France

1990
10th place, Downhill, FIS World Cup, Val d’Isere, France

1992
4th place, Downhill, FIS World Cup, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany

1995
1st place, Downhill, FIS race, Mont Ste Anne, Quebec 8th place, Downhill, FIS World Cup, Val Gardena, Italy

1996
5th place, Downhill, FIS World Cup, Veysonnaz, Switzerland
7th place, Downhill, FIS World Cup, Veysonnaz, Switzerland
3rd place, Super G, FIS race, Bardonecchia, Italy
2nd place, Downhill, FIS World Cup, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany
5th place, Downhill, FIS World Ski Championships, Sierra Nevada, Spain

1997
9th place, Downhill, FIS World Cup, Bormio, Italy

1998
10th place, Downhill, FIS World Cup, Val Gardena, Italy

Other Major international races (top ten finishes)

1990
1st place, Downhill, Pan-American Winter Games, Las Lenas, Argentina

 

Please Note: The ski information gathered here is compiled from a number of sources; it may not be inclusive of all accomplishments.
Copyright © 2021, Canadian Ski Museum. For Personal/Educational use only.

Brian Stemmle at 1987 Molson World Cup at Nakiska in Calgary, Alberta. NAST / Alec Pytlowany.

Brian Stemmle at World Cup event in Kitzbuhel, Austria. Alpine Canada Alpin.

Brian Stemmle.
Brian Stemmle. Photo NAST / Peter Freithofer 1987.
Brian Stemmle.
Brian Stemmle. Photo NAST / Chris Speedie.
Rob Boyd wins gold in World Cup downhill at Val Gardena, Italy, 1987. Brian Stemmle won bronze.
Rob Boyd wins gold in World Cup downhill at Val Gardena, Italy, 1987. Brian Stemmle won bronze. Alpine Canada Alpin.
Brian Stemmle 1986
Brian Stemmle 1986. Alpine Canada Alpin.

Brian Stemmle and Rob Boyd. Alpine Canada Alpin.

National Alpine Ski Team 1985-86 [top row]: Todd Brooker, ?, Mike Tommy, Derek Thussler, Gary Athans, Alain Villiard, Paul Boivin, Don Stevens, Don Lyon (coach), Currie Chapman (coach), Max Gartner (coach), Carl Petersen (Fitness Co-ordinator) [2nd row]: Piotr Jelen (coach), Germain Barrette (coach), Bruce Henry (coach), ?, Felix Belczyk, Rob Boyd, Istvan Balyi, Glenn Wurtele [3rd row]: Jim Kirby, Andréa Bédard, Jim Read, Chris Kent, Brian Stemmle, Dan Moar, Chris McIver, Diana Haight, Scott Shaver [4th row]: Karen Stemmle, Laurie Graham, Kerrin Lee Gartner, Liisa Savijarvi, Kellie Casey, Josée Lacasse, Karen Percy. Alpine Canada Alpin.

Men’s National Alpine Ski Team 1985-86 [top row]: Jim Kirby, Chris McIver, Dan Moar [bottom row]: Scott Shaver, Brian Stemmle, Don Stevens. Alpine Canada Alpin.

National Alpine Ski Team 1986 [back row]: Todd Brooker, Mike Tommy, Jim Read, Felix Belczyk, Don Stevens [front row]: Brian Stemmle, Rob Boyd, Chris Kent. Alpine Canada Alpin.

National Alpine Ski Team 1986 [Back row]: Chris Kent, Gary Athans, Chris McIver, Dan Moar, Mike Carney, Rob Bosinger [Front row]: Don Stevens, Felix Belczyk, Brian Stemmle, Todd Brooker. Alpine Canada Alpin.

National Alpine Ski Team 1986 [back row]: Glenn Wurtele (coach), Don Stevens, Rob Boyd, Todd Brooker, Mike Tommy, Carl Pettersen (fitness co-ordinator) [middle row]: Diana Haight, Andréa Bédard, Felix Belczyk, Chris Kent, Jim Read, Brian Stemmle, Kellie Casey [bottom row]: Karen Percy, Josée Lacasse, Laurie Graham, Karen Stemmle, Liisa Savijarvi. Alpine Canada Alpin.

Men’s National Alpine Ski Team 1986 [L to R]: Brian Stemmle, Rob Boyd, Gary Athans, Chris McIver, Dan Moar, Mike Carney, Rob Bosinger, Todd Brooker, Chris Kent, Don Stevens, Felix Belczyk. Alpine Canada Alpin.

National Alpine Ski Team 1986 [back row]: Paul Boivin, Chris Kent, Don Stevens, Felix Belczyk, Daniel Moar, Gary Athans [front row]: Brian Stemmle, Chris McIver, Scott Shaver, Jim Kirby, Rob Boyd, Todd Brooker. Alpine Canada Alpin.

Men’s National Alpine Ski Team 1986-87 [top row]: Brian Stemmle, Don Stevens, Mike Tommy [bottom row]: Derek Trussler, Alain Villiard, Glenn Wurtele (coach). Alpine Canada Alpin.

Men’s National Alpine Ski Team 1987-88 [top row]: Jim Read, Ralf Socher, Brian Stemmle, Don Stevens [bottom row]: Mike Tommy, Alain Villiard, Glenn Wurtele, Currie Chapman.

National Alpine Ski Team 1988 [back row]: Rob Boyd, Don Stevens, Ralf Socher, Alain Villiard, Peter Bosinger, Mike Tommy [2nd row]: Mike Carney, Rob Crossan, Felix Belczyk, Jim Read, Dan Moar, Greg Grossman, Brian Stemmle, Rob Bosinger [3rd row]: Josée Lacasse, Kerrin Lee, Nancy Gee, Kendra Kobelka, Michelle McKendry, Liisa Savijarvi, Andréa Bédard [bottom row]: Lucie LaRoche, Kellie Casey, Karen Stemmle, Laurie Graham, Karen Percy. Alpine Canada Alpin.

Brian Stemmle Feature | Lance Phillips

A story about Canadian ski racer, Brian Stemmle and his traumatic crash on the Hannenkham in Kitzbuhel, Austria in 1989. Recounting how his accident paved the way for safety improvements that continue to benefit modern-day skiers.

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