Hall of Famer
A 10-year member of the Canadian Alpine Ski Team in the 1960s, Rod (Yogi) Hebron was one of the most influential leaders on the various ski teams he participated, providing inspiration for teammates and paving a winning path for the next generation.
The two-time Olympian (Innsbruck 1964, Grenoble 1968) first qualified for the national team at age 17 as a three-event skier – slalom, giant slalom, downhill – and earned many impressive results on the international circuits, including two top 5 World Cup finishes. He also competed in three World Championship events – 1962, 1966, and 1970 – and was an eight-time Canadian champion on home snow (14 national championship medals overall), and claimed the Quebec Kandahar title three times.
“I seemed to ski really well at home in Canada, I guess I felt comfortable,” Rod explained. “I remember at the end of those races you got all your buddies there we’d get our jackets on and ski down to the awards ceremony; the sun would be setting, with the alpenglow … it was pure joy.”
Beyond the results, Rod was a leader, motivator and role model. While the men’s team was somewhat overshadowed during the late 1960s and 70s by the spectacular breakthrough and results of Nancy Greene Raine, Kathy Kreiner and others, Rod’s leadership set the stage for future men’s powerhouse teams, like the Crazy Canucks.
Currie Chapman, one of the great Canadian coaches, summed up Rod’s impact, “Rod provided us with a glimpse of the best in the world; he was a leader in his quiet way, and was a role model we all aspired to emulate.”
Rod’s introduction to skiing and ski racing started modestly and, quite literally, in the mountains. “We grew up in a cabin on Grouse Mountain, now they call it off the grid but we were just poor,” Rod quipped. “My dad had a hot dog stand up there, there weren’t any lifts or anything but he’d sell hot dogs to all the hikers.”
During the winter months Rod skied “all the time, as there was nothing else we could do really … I had all my pals up there and when the lift went up in 1948 and then the top lift in ’52 we’d ski all the time” he said. “Man, we had a lot of fun in those days.”
Rod and his childhood teammates competed in a regular fun race from the chalet on the mountain down to the ski village. The race was dubbed the “No-see-ums Kandahar” (named after the swarms of biting midge flies) and Rod still remembers his best time as a six-year-old … two minutes and 43 seconds. His skiing career took off, first winning city events, then provincial, national and eventually to the two Olympic events, where he represented Canada.
In 1959, despite winning the Canadian Olympic qualifying race at Red Mountain, the national team coaches chose not to select Rod and go with an older, more experienced team. But Rod took it in stride and was proud to represent Canada in subsequent Olympic Games. “In 1968 at Grenoble I did pretty well in the qualifying races but in the actual race I fell on the Col de Bolme and dislocated my shoulder so for the GS and slalom I had to have a lot of shots in my shoulder to numb it so that it didn’t hurt so bad,” he said.
During his early career, Rod ski raced in leather boots and “long thongs” (leathers straps holding the boots in place) and in downhill races was on 223 cm skis. Quite a feat in itself. In the Spring of 1965 in the Silver Belt at Sugar Bowl, Rod was the first racer to introduce Lange Boots and Dynamic Skis. The revolution in ski equipment started happening then with Lange Boots, Look Nevada 2 bindings and Dynamic VR7 skis. Seeing his results everyone clamored to race on the new equipment.
After retiring from amateur ski racing, Rod Hebron joined the World Pro Tour from 1971-73. Then in 1976, he started a new ski shop in Silverthorne, Colorado – the Virgin Islands Ski Rental – where he operated until 2015 when he sold to a new owner. The well-respected shop included state-of-the-art equipment and you would find local ski racers in the back, who he hired as ski technicians.
Rod continues to be a serious fan of Canadian snowsports. “Oh I watch all the races, everything, all the events; these young guys like Jack Crawford and Brodie Seger and I also watch ski cross, moguls, aerials and everything. The Canadians do so well in so many snowsports now, it’s really fun to watch.”
Rod Hebron made a significant impact on the sport of alpine skiing with his positive character, quick wit and charm, skiing talent and strong leadership abilities.
“Ski racing really is a tough sport. Weather, injuries, travel … and we certainly didn’t make any money from it, it really was for the love of the sport. You learn about hard work, persistence and the friendships on the team; we all raced to win but we supported each other.”
The Boys of Winter, Colorado Summit Magazine
- Three-time winner – Quebec Kandahar Cup in Mont Tremblant, Quebec.
- Winner of the Adams Memorial at Mont-Orford, Quebec.
- Winner of the Peter Campbell at Blue Mountain, Ontario.
- Winner of the Parsenn Derby in Davos Switzerland (under 19 years old)
- Third place, Roche Cup in Aspen, Colorado (1966)
- Three-time winner, Heather Cup in Mt. Baker, Washington.
- Four-time winner, Golden Rose at Timberline Lodge, Mt. Hood Oregon.
- Winner, Silver Belt at Sugar Bowl, California (1965).
- Winner, Dick Springer Memorial at Mammoth Mountain, California (1965).
- 5th place – World Cup slalom in Franconia, New Hampshire (1967)
- 5th place – World Cup downhill Megeve, France (1969).
- Gold – Slalom 1962, 1963, 1965, 1968; GS 1963, 1965, 1967; Combined 1968
- Silver – Slalom 1967; GS 1968; Downhill 1962; Combined 1963, 1967
- Bronze – Downhill 1964
US Championship results:
- Gold – Slalom 1961, 1965; Combined 1961
- Silver – Downhill 1968
- Bronze – Giant Slalom 1968
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