Born in Trail, BC, Kerrin Lee-Gartner grew up in Rossland, just two houses from where Nancy Greene had lived. Lee-Gartner had her first taste of skiing at the tender age of three on nearby Red Mountain, developing her skills and competing in the local “Nancy Greene Beginners league”. By the age of eighteen, she had qualified for Canada’s National “C” team, placing in the top-twenty in a couple of downhill races her very first year on the World Cup circuit.
At the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics, a fifteenth place finish disappointed Lee-Gartner, whose dream was to win gold at the Games. She had a great World Cup season in 1990-91, however, with third and fifth-place finishes in downhill, and skied a very consistent 4/5/6 season in 1991-92.
Her results at the Canadian Championships at Lake Louise in 1990 were an impressive second place finish in both the Downhill and eighteenth in the Super Giant Slalom. In 1991 at Panorama, Lee-Gartner won the Downhill.
With a previous best international performance of third in a 1990 World Cup Race at Altenmarkt, Austria, Lee-Gartner entered the 1992 Olympic Games ranked thirteenth in the Downhill and eighteenth in the Super Giant Slalom by the FIS.
The Roc de Fer (Iron Rock) Olympic run in Meribel, France was one of the toughest women’s downhill courses ever offered. Lee-Gartner was not intimidated. In the tradition of the “Crazy Canucks” before her, she went “all or nothing” down the slope with her eye on the podium. On February 14th, 1992 at the sixteenth Olympic Winter Games, Kerrin Lee-Gartner won Canada’s first-ever Olympic gold for women’s downhill, by a mere .06 of a second.
Lee-Gartner was able to compete in her third Winter Olympic Games in February of 1994. She skied to a twelth-place finish in Lillehammer, Norway, happy with her performance, and full of Olympic spirit.
Upon her return to the 1993-94 World Cup Season in March, Lee-Gartner announced her retirement from competitive skiing, racing her last downhill at Whistler.
Described by the national coach as tough, aggressive, and having a great understanding of herself and her abilities, Lee-Gartner believed the key to her success was to ski relaxed–not pretty, just fast.