Hall of Famer
Gabrielle (Gaby) Pleau
Born in 1920, Gaby Pleau’s competitive career began at the age of ten when she entered her first cross-country ski race subsequently accumulating trophies in both nordic and alpine events throughout Quebec and the northern United States. For her exploits she was named “Snow Queen of the 1940s”.
As winner of the famous Great Divide Classic in 1946 she was appointed to the Canadian Olympic Ski team for the 1948 Winter Olympic Games, St Moritz, Switzerland. All too soon after her selection, she had a spectacular fall at Soda Spring in the mountains of western Canada resulting in serious injuries and the end of her competitive career.
Although her competitive career ended, her enthusiasm for the sport remained undiminished and, in 1965, she was appointed Canadian Delegate to the Federation Internationale de Ski (FIS) Congress held at Mamia, Roumania, where she helped present Canada’s bid for the 1968 Olympic Winter Games at Banff, Alberta. The Banff bid was unsuccessful and the Winter Games were awarded to Grenoble, France. Her role in international skiing expanded to included membership of a number of organizing committees for World Cup events at which she was responsible for the protocol and FIS Regulatory aspects as well as FIS competitor standings.
At the national level, she served on the Canadian Amateur Ski Association (CASA) as Ladies Chair, was a member of the committee organizing the first group in Quebec to become affiliated to the CASA. Between 1946 and 1963, she worked tirelessly to promote women’s skiing in both alpine and Nordic disciplines serving the CASA on women’s committees at club, zone, division and National levels.
In Quebec, Gaby Pleau is a legend. As founder and first president of the Saint Castin Ski Club in 1946, an association which lasted 28-years, she was responsible for promoting women’s skiing throughout Quebec. Levels of participation and competitiveness from within and outside of Quebec improved through sponsored racing and were the stimulus for the emergence of Quebec women capable of competing internationally.
Please Note: The ski information gathered here is compiled from a number of sources; it may not be inclusive of all accomplishments.
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1983 Canadian Ski Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony [L to R]: Gaby Pleau, Doug Firth, Louis Grimes. CSHFM Collection.
1983 Canadian Ski Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. [L to R]: Gaby Pleau, Mrs. Henry Sotvedt, Louis Grimes. CSHFM Collection.
Rhoda Wurtele, Gaby Pleau, and Rhona Wurtele at 1988 Canadian Ski Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. CSHFM Collection.
Inductee Gaby Pleau at 1984 Canadian Ski Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. CSHFM Collection.
Rae Grinnell and Gaby Pleau at 1984 Canadian Ski Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. CSHFM Collection.
Gaby Pleau (right) with daughter at at 1988 Canadian Ski Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. CSHFM Collection.