Sound advice from Crazy Canuck spearheaded Schornstein’s career

Canadian Paralympic Committee

August 28, 2018

Sound advice from Crazy Canuck spearheaded Schornstein’s career



OTTAWA – Ken Read, the leader of the famed Crazy Canucks in the 1970s and 80s, once provided some valuable advice to Para alpine skier Kirk Schornstein, who retired recently after a brilliant near-decade on the Canadian national team.

It was in 2008, and Schornstein was still competing against able-bodied racers usually finishing near the bottom of the standings in local and provincial events. While the results didn’t really bother Schornstein, who is unable to use his right arm due to Erb’s Palsy, he was somewhat anxious to compete against his peers in Para alpine.

‘’Ken kept telling me to be patient about entering the Para alpine field,’’ said Schornstein, 25. ‘’He felt I should be consistently in the top-30 in my able-bodied races before making the change.’’

Read, president of the Alberta Alpine Ski Association at the time, felt Schornstein should have a positive experience off the bat in Para alpine skiing.

‘’That became a big goal of mine in my teenage years, to show that among 80 entries I could get in a top-30, even with a disability. I started to achieve that consistently. Ken was at the races watching that. He came up to me and said now you’re ready to get into the Para circuit.’’

At Vancouver 2010, Schornstein made his first of three Paralympic Games appearances at age 16 (‘’the highlight of my career’’) and capped his career in PyeongChang with his best Games results. He earned three top-10 finishes including a sixth in the downhill.

The 25-year-old from Spruce Groves, Alta., also raced at three world championships and in 2017 notched his best-ever international result with a silver in the downhill.

But even before that silver in Tarvisio, Italy, Schornstein knew he was retiring after the 2018 Games.

‘’It was actually planned two years ago,’’ he admitted. ‘’At that time I was already satisfied with my success. Then this summer, the decision was solidified when my education questions were sorted out and finalized.’’

VIDEO: Schornstein racing at the 2018 PyeongChang Paralympic Games 

Schornstein plans to enter the University of Lethbridge in Calgary this January to study business management and finances. He plans to pursue a career in investment banking. However he will not be far from the ski hills, giving back to his sport.

‘’I want to help the next generation of Olympians and Paralympians,’’ he said. ‘’That can be as a coach or mentor. I want to help someone achieve their goals in sport and reach the world level. I feel my experience will be beneficial.’’

Stories in the world of sport abound about athletes, whether they are disabled or not, who overcome barriers and naysayers to achieve incredible success.

‘’I never had a hero, no one to look up to,’’ Schornstein said. ‘’I was dead last all the time when I started out. What drove me was proving people wrong. People from all facets of my life told me I couldn’t do it. My answer:

‘’Just watch me.’’ 

Can Crew Newsletter

Receive the latest news, athlete stories, and behind-the-scenes access directly to your inbox.

"*" indicates required fields