First it was Irwin and Murray, next came Read and Podborski, followed by Brooker and then along came Rob Boyd—another link in the legacy of successful Canadian downhill ski racers.
Boyd’s passion for skiing began on a Vernon hillside when he was just a three-year-old, using a homemade rope tow his dad had constructed. As a youngster Boyd also played organized hockey, but by his mid-teens he had decided to pursue skiing more seriously, competing in events as a member of the Silver Star Ski Club in Vernon.
By 1982 Boyd had moved to Whistler and at the age of sixteen he qualified for the provincial ski team. Boyd improved quickly and two years later was named to the national downhill team. In what was supposed to be a development year, he had two top-ten finishes on the World Cup circuit.
“As far as progression goes, I was certainly above average,” explained Boyd. “When I moved up to the World Cup it didn’t seem like such a big step.”
The next season Boyd won his first downhill at Val Gardena. It was the first of six career top-ten finishes on the Italian mountain that included two of his three World Cup victories.
“The course fit my body and my style very well. It never intimidated me at all. I always felt comfortable attacking all through the course.”
At age twenty Boyd had followed in the ‘Crazy Canuck’ tradition of winning downhill races. Besides the three World Cup victories, Boyd finished on the podium six times and captured 28 top-fifteen results in his twelve years on the national team. Boyd also qualified for six world championships and three Olympics before retiring from World Cup competition in 1997.
The highlight of his racing career came in 1989 at Whistler when Boyd became the first Canadian male racer to win a World Cup downhill in his home country.
“Winning at Whistler was the pinnacle. I had won the first two training runs and there were just a lot of positive vibrations. The people around me were trying not to jinx anything and I just tried to keep it calm.”
After his retirement from the World Cup circuit, Boyd competed in the professional downhill series. He was a coach for the Canadian downhill team at the Salt Lake Winter Olympics in 2002 and also a head coach at the K-2 level (13-14-year-olds) for the Whistler Mountain Ski Club.