Former Canadian women’s hockey team player Therese Brisson to lead Alpine Canada

Former Canadian women’s hockey team player Therese Brisson to lead Alpine Canada

CALGARY — A decorated Canadian women’s hockey player has stepped to the helm of Alpine Canada.

Therese Brisson is the new president and chief executive officer of Canada’s governing body of skiing. She replaces Vania Grandi, who resigned in May just short of two and a half years in the job.

Brisson won an Olympic gold medal in 2002 in Salt Lake City, as well as a silver in 1998 when women’s hockey made its Olympic debut in Nagano, Japan. The captain of the national team from 1999 to 2001 earned six world championship gold medals during her career.

A broken ankle and subsequent surgeries on it contributed to the defender’s retirement prior to the 2006 Winter Olympics.

“Still not an Olympic ankle, but that matters less in a ski boot,” Brisson told The Canadian Press.

The 53-year-old from Dollard-des-Ormeaux, Que., has worked as a sales and marketing executive for consumer product companies since retiring from hockey. She’s also been a director with the Canadian Olympic Committee and spent a decade serving as Own The Podium’s corporate secretary and treasurer.

Brisson takes over one of Canada’s largest sports organizations Aug. 4 during a pandemic wreaking havoc across global sport.

“The challenge of building the brand and the business all in service of helping our athletes and coaches be on the podium is something that’s very exciting and attractive to me,” Brisson said. “If it was a business-as-usual assignment, I don’t think I would have been as excited to join.”

Former world alpine champion Erik Guay is a member of Alpine Canada’s board.

Retired in 2018, the most decorated man in Canadian ski racing says Brisson brings both sport and business clout to table.

“We were looking for somebody who was very financially savvy, who has some good marketing repertoire,” Guay said. “Me personally, I was looking for somebody to lead us and I didn’t know what that would look like exactly. This has been a new process for me to interview candidates.

“I can say we interviewed quite a few. I can say Therese stood out from the crowd early on. The fact Therese is not coming from a competitive alpine skiing background, she understands what competitive sport looks like and she understands, most importantly, what winning looks like. That’s a big asset in winning over the athletes’ trust.”

Alpine Canada’s stated goal is to be a top-three skiing nation by 2026. Canada is already there in ski cross and para-alpine, but not yet in alpine racing.

“The timeline might be aggressive, but it’s something I think we should certainly aspire to,” Brisson said.

The Canadian ski team is shifting out of a pandemic hiatus with alpine skiers on the verge of returning to snow. Women’s team veteran Valerie Grenier travelled to Switzerland this week and others are expected to join her for the 2020-21 season.

“We have extensive health protocols in place, which among other things requires getting tested prior to leaving and upon arrival in Switzerland,” Guay said. “These aren’t mandatory trips. We told the athletes if they’re at all uncomfortable with travelling during these times, completely understandable.”

Whether they’ll get the chance to compete in international races at home is another pandemic question.

The men’s and women’s downhills in Lake Louise, Alta., in November and December are a staple on the World Cup calendar.

A World Cup ski cross at Nakiska Ski Resort west of Calgary originally scheduled for Jan. 16, 2021 no longer appears on the world governing body’s calendar. FIS has delayed decisions on next season’s schedule until mid-August.

“There’s a lot of uncertainty right now, a lot of speculation what the season is going to look like, what’s going to be cancelled, what’s going to remain on the schedule,” Guay said. “We really have no idea what the coming season is going to look like.”

Brisson is undaunted by the turbulence.

“For all sport, not just alpine but certainly alpine, it’s going to be a season unlike any other we’ve had that’s for sure,” she said. “Not everyone signs up for this, but this is an important sport in our country.

“There will be financial challenges related to this, return to sport and training challenges and then there will be event challenges as well. It’s truthfully what I was looking for, the challenge.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 22, 2020.

— Follow @DLSpencer10 on Twitter

Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press

Alpine Canada

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

skip2
Rimbey Christian School students experience the joy of giving

Grades three and four students raised $2,000 for Somalian children

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Alberta reports 1,731 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday

The province’s central zone has 992 active cases

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, said growing COVID-19 case numbers continue to be a concern in the province. (Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Alberta announces 1,077 new COVID-19 cases Thursday

There are currently 14,052 active cases in the province

Bids for Kids poster
Wolf Creek Youth Foundation online auction gets ‘overwhelming’ response

Santa’s Bids for Kids auction to benefit youth programs in Rimbey, Ponoka

Idyllic winter scenes are part of the atmosphere of the holiday season, and are depicted in many seasonal movies. How much do you know about holiday movies? Put your knowledge to the test. (Pixabay.com)
QUIZ: Test your knowledge of holiday movies and television specials

The festive season is a time for relaxing and enjoying some seasonal favourites

A person enters a building as snow falls in Ottawa, Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020. Ottawa has been successful in limiting the spread of COVID-19 during its second wave thanks to the city’s residents who have been wearing masks and staying home, said Ottawa’s medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
People to thank for Ottawa’s success with curbing COVID-19: health officer

The city’s chief medical officer said much of the credit goes to the people who live in Ottawa

The Red Deer Games Foundation has made changes to its grant program as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo supplied)
Red Deer Games Foundation adjusts grant program due to COVID-19 pandemic

The foundation postponed the spring 2020 grant program due to the COVID-19 pandemic

Alexandre Bissonnette, who pleaded guilty to a mass shooting at a Quebec City mosque, arrives at the courthouse in Quebec City on February 21, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mathieu Belanger - POOL
Court strikes down consecutive life sentences; mosque shooter has prison term cut

The decision was appealed by both the defence and the Crown

Gold medallists in the ice dance, free dance figure skating Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, of Canada, pose during their medals ceremony at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Charlie Riedel
Olympic champions Virtue, Moir and Tewksbury among 114 Order of Canada inductees

Moir and Virtue catapulted to national stardom with their gold-medal performances at the Winter Olympics in 2018

Shoppers line up in front of a shop on Montreal’s Saint-Catherine Street in search of Black Friday deals in Montreal, Friday, Nov. 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Black Friday shopping in a pandemic: COVID-19 closes some stores, sales move online

Eric Morris, head of retail at Google Canada, says e-commerce in Canada has doubled during the pandemic.

skip2
Rimbey Christian School students experience the joy of giving

Grades three and four students raised $2,000 for Somalian children

File Photo
Sylvan Lake Town Council asks for a mask bylaw to be brought forward for consideration

The bylaw would require face coverings in all indoor Town-owned and operated facilities

Most Read