Paying it forward. It’s a concept that’s defined Emily Brydon’s skiing career.

Emily grew up carving the deep powder mountains near small-town Fernie. Her family didn’t have a TV and she was completely unaware of the larger world of international skiing. But she skied for the love of it and her talent hurtled her to the Canadian national team by age 17 in 1997. When her father passed away suddenly a year later, she thought her skiing career was over. Then a local Fernie family stepped up with a $10,000 gift to give her a chance to chase her dream. It was the boost she needed and it propelled her to one of the most decorated skiing careers in Canadian history.

Later, with this pivotal moment in mind, she created the Emily Brydon Youth Foundation in 2006 to give children in the Elk Valley area around Fernie the opportunity to participate in sport and cultural activities regardless of their background. With renewed purpose, she was suddenly skiing for something bigger than just herself and it drove her to a new level of success.
“My foundation gave me a purpose for the first time,” said Emily. “It inspired me every single day. I was going to make a difference to a child, that’s so much better than hurtling yourself down a mountain to stand on a podium. It had so much more power and meaning.”

Primarily a technical skier early on, Emily’s remarkable versatility later allowed her to find success in the speed events. She first emerged on the international radar in the year 2000, winning the combined event at the world junior championships.

Emily represented Canada for ten seasons on the World Cup circuit, regularly ranking in the world top-10 and compiling nine career podium finishes, ranking her third all-time among Canadian women. A member of the Canadian national team for 13 years, she represented Canada at three Olympics in 2002, 2006, and 2010, recording five top-20 finishes.

In 2008 she won the World Cup Super G event at St. Moritz, Switzerland and stood atop the podium wearing a dollar-store tiara as one of Canada’s ‘Speed Queens.’ “It had taken me so long to win a World Cup,” recalled Emily. “That was one of the best feelings of my life to finally do it. It validated my abilities and talents.”

Her career highlight came at Lake Louise in late 2009, as she finished second and third in two World Cup downhill races just behind American legend Lindsey Vonn.

Nationally, Emily won 13 Canadian championships in various disciplines in her career. At the 2005 Canadian national alpine championships, she cleaned up, taking gold in the downhill, Super G, slalom, and combined, marking the first time in nearly 40 years a single athlete had won these titles all in the same year.

Written and researched by Jason Beck, Curator of the BC Sports Hall of Fame.