February 3, 2012
BY: NICOLA MACLEOD
Todd Brooker started racing on the World Cup circuit as a teenager by an act of fortune.
Todd was born into a family of hockey players. The Brookers were not skiers.
Brooker learned to ski in Collingwood, Ont. at the age of five after living in Kitzbühel, Austria and hearing about the fun of skiing. Years later, he joined a race club.
“I was a big kid and so when I started racing, I started winning everything,” said Brooker. “A kid that was supposed to go to the Canadian championships from my area got sick, he couldn’t go and they said ‘well you could go.’”
Brooker accepted the invitation and placed seventh in the downhill event wearing a motorcycle helmet, a pair of borrowed skis and his mother’s jacket. He was invited to join the Canadian National Team, then dubbed The Crazy Canucks.
It was in his first year in Europe that Brooker experienced the low point of his career, a knee injury that put him out for the season.
“ I saw all the guys and everybody was happy, they had a great day on the hill and they were going back out skiing and I wasn’t. I just started crying. That was awful,” said Brooker.
He recovered from the injury and went on to win the Kitzbühel Downhill, the biggest race on the circuit, in 1983. He was the third Canuck to win the event since 1981.
“Anyone that makes the national team, their goal would be to win a world cup race, ”said Brooker. “Kitzbühel, that was my highlight.”
Brooker, son of Olympic hockey player Charlie Brooker, skied in the 1984 Sarajevo Winter Olympics.
Todd Brooker’s World Cup ski racing career ended with an infamous crash that destroyed his knee, left him with head injuries and blinded him temporarily.
The crash was in 1987 in Kitzbühel, where Brooker also had the biggest win of his career.