Hall of Famer
John Kucera’s career in ski racing began modestly but his ascent to the top of the world was impressive and swift.
Born in Calgary, Kucera’s parents fled communist Czechoslovakia in 1981. He started skiing at 18 months old and never looked back. John started with the Calgary Alpine Racing Club and later joined the Nancy Greene Ski League at Mount Norquay, Alberta.
When he reached the FIS level of alpine racing, the Kucera family struggled with the high costs of ski racing. When other kids were staying in hotel rooms, the Kuceras were camping in ski hill parking lots in their RV. One summer, John wrote almost 1000 letters to sponsors to continue to race. Hard work led him to a place on the Alberta Ski Team and eventually to the Canadian Alpine Ski Team from 2002 – 2014. John competed in all five (5) disciplines but he excelled at downhill and super G. The challenges he overcame as a young racer prepared Kucera for the tests he would face as a national team skier trying to establish himself on the world cup circuit.
John made history on the world cup stage in 2006 at the age of 22. Claiming Canada’s first men’s World Cup win on Canadian soil, taking gold in the super G at Lake Louise. John then cemented his place as a medal contender that year, claiming a bronze medal in the super G at Val Gardena, on a classic World Cup venue.
At the Torino Winter Olympics in 2006, John competed in the downhill, super G and combined. He finished top 30 in all three disciplines.
In 2009, John made history again in France by winning Canada’s first men’s World Championship title in the downhill, passing rivals Bode Miller and Hermann Maier. He credits this win to having the right track, the right conditions and the right time in his career.
Following his story book season (2009), Kucera suffered a broken leg in November. In 2010, during his return to snow program, John was forerunning a race when he came out of his binding and crashed. His leg was broken again. In 2011, John suffered multiple bulging discs in his back. Following a three-year hiatus from racing due to injury, John returned to Lake Louise in 2012. That race was considered a courageous comeback by many. John finished 14th in the super G that year and proved to the world that he could compete with the world’s best, even after so many injuries.
Unfortunately, Kucera’s was forced to announce his retirement in 2014 due to vestibular neuritis – an inner ear condition causing dizziness and nausea.
Upon John’s retirement form competitive ski racing, he joined the coaching staff of Alpine Canada, looking to share his knowledge and experience with Canada’s next top ski racers. John was name Alberta Male Athlete of the year in 2006 and 2009 and he was inducted to the Alberta Sport Hall of Fame in 2017.
As part of the Canadian Cowboys including teammates Erik Guay, Manny Osborne Paradis and Jan Hudec, he set an example and a standard for generations to come.
Note: The ski information gathered here is compiled from a number of sources; it may not be inclusive of all accomplishments. Copyright © 2023, Canadian Ski Museum. For Personal/Educational use only. All Rights Reserved.