Speed Warrior – Tom Pro and the Vertical Imperative 

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Fun times, for sure. But was it productive? "I learned so much on that trip," he says. "Just the fact that we were on our own, looking after ourselves, making decisions together — that was pretty exciting." Not to mention all the stuff he learned from the people he met that winter "Being a lone downhiller is tough, you know, so I ended up travelling and training with the Spanish Team a lot." He stops. Sighs nostalgically. "That was really cool..."

As for memorable races, "well, there was that one downhill in Serre Chevalier," he says almost reluctantly. "I think it was the French National Championships. And it was ugly. There was no snow on the course... just ice." He laughs. "If I remember correctly, France lost half its downhill team in that one race."

And Pro? "I was definitely intimidated," he admits. And laughs some more. "I even got a haircut the night before the race from Kathy O'Sullivan (who was visiting with Dave Lambert) so I would look good in my casket for my mom..."

A quick sidebar: It's worth keeping in mind that this was also the time (1974-75) when the upstart Canadian Downhill Team was beginning to impose its collective will on the European-dominated speed circuit. While it is reasonable to assume that the "Crazy Canuck" moniker was bestowed on the actual members of that team, many a European journalist will argue that it was actually the skiing antics of Canadian racers who weren't on the team that made the "crazy" come alive for them. Apocryphal? Maybe...

But back to the story. Ski racing is a tough sport to let go of. Particularly when you're so close to grabbing the brass ring. And for Pro it was no different. "I kept thinking: 'Just one more season,' you know. But eventually I realized I had to move on." He retired from ski racing in the winter of '77-'78. Now what?

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