Carol Gibson began her cross country ski racing career with a race on her hometown trails in Camrose in 1974. The Camrose Rotary Club had donated 50 pairs of skis, boots and poles to the Camrose Lutheran College where Carol’s dad, Garry worked as a professor of Physical Education. Garry, who had learned to ski from Kaare Engstad (a former Camrose Ski club Olympian) started a ski team and invited Carol, her siblings John and Nancy and a few of their friends to join the College team as the Junior Vikings. Her mother Dorothy volunteered to manage the team and so began a family adventure centered around cross-country skiing.
Carol represented Camrose at the 1978 Alberta Winter Games in Medicine Hat. She was selected to Team Alberta in 1979 for the Canada Winter Games in Brandon, Manitoba followed by the Canadian Junior Nationals in Sudbury, Ontario. After winning the overall title at the Canadian Junior Nationals in 1981 in Campbellton, New Brunswick, Carol was named to the Canadian National Team. She spent the next decade representing Canada at World Championships, the World Cup Circuit and the 1988 Olympics held in Canmore, Alberta. She retired from her ski career at the end of the season in 1990 after being named the overall Canadian Senior Champion in Mont Ste. Anne, Quebec.
Carol went on to study physiotherapy at the University of Alberta in Edmonton and has practiced in Canmore, Alberta since 1995. She has worked with National Cross Country and Biathlon teams and was the lead therapist for the Biathlon team at the Olympics in Vancouver, BC in 2010.
When she returns to Camrose, you can find her hiking to the top of the ski jump hill, mountain biking out in Happy Valley or tucking down the Dipsey Doodle on her favorite trails here in Stoney Creek Valley.
As a junior skier, Carol competed in the Canadian Junior cross-country championships. In 1980 in Whitehorse she finished in second place and in 1981 in Campbellton, N.B. she finished first and was awarded the Shell Cup. She not only made history for herself but for Alberta as well because she was the first skier in the province to bring home the trophy.
A highlight for Carol came in 1987, when she was a member of the relay team of Jean McAllister, Marie-Andree Masson, Angela Schmidt-Foster and Carol that won silver at a Pre-Olympic World Cup ski race at the Canmore Nordic Centre. Carol also considers her 17th place at the World cup in the 5km Free Technique at La Clusaz In France, her 9th place finish in the 6.8 Free Technique in Baretschruti Switzerland and her 26th place finish at the 1988 Olympics to be major accomplishment of her career.
Carol retired from racing in 1990 after nine years with the national team. In her words, “I wanted to leave the sport when I still love to race.” She won her first Canadian women’s overall championship that season after collecting numerous silver and bronze medals at the senior level since 1982.
Carol has been named a life-long member of the Camrose Ski Club.
What does it take?
Carol had this to say as she prepared for the 1988 Olympics. “It is important to be able to recognize your natural talent, then have the commitment and dedication to develop it. It is necessary to be disciplined enough to stick to the game plan and be prepared to chip your way to the top and still keep the dream in mind as a source of motivation.”
Cross-country skiing requires intense concentration and mental preparation, especially for the steep, winding courses set up at Canmore, where athletes could travel as fast as 80 km an hour on their narrow skis. One wrong move can wipe out the training of as much as 10,000 km a year.
Throughout the year Carol trained 60 to 85 hours a month - in excess of 750 hours a year. Her training included a wide range of disciplines ranging including running, swimming, rowing, mountain biking, and hiking. To this list she added ski-specific and strength training.
- 1979 - qualifies for Canada Winter Games
- 1980 - National Jr. Championships – 2nd in 5km classic
- 1981 - Canadian Jr. Championships - overall junior champion
- 1981 - Joins Sr. team – 3rd in relay at Canadian and North American Championships
- 1982 - Canadian Jr. Championships – overall junior champion, qualifies for World Juniors
- 1983 - North American Junior Champion; competes in World Championships and World
- University Games
- 1984 - National Jr. Champion; qualifies for World Jr. Championship team and Polar Cup
- 1985 - World Jr. Championships – rank 31st; winner Canada Cup
- 1986 - Canadian Sr. Championships – ranked 4thoverall; winner Canada Cup
- 1987 - World Cup Canmore – 2nd in relay
- 1989 - Canadian Sr. Championships – ranked 6th
- North American Championship – ranked 1st
- 1990 – Canadian Sr. Championships – national champion