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Friday, May. 24, 2019
Alpine ski just part of the story for Hall of Famer Jim Gougeon
by Randy Pascal

Within Sudbury sporting circles, the Gougeon name is associated, first and foremost, with alpine skiing. With family involved both in the coaching and administrative ranks, Angela Gougeon would rise to prominence, cracking the national World Cup team in 1982.

According to 2018 Sudbury Sports Hall of Fame inductee Jim Gougeon however, alpine ski was but the tip of the athletic iceberg for the local clan. "We were three brothers and we always went out to play, and when we went out to play, we played everything," he said.

"Maybe it was canoeing at the canoe club, or maybe it was archery. When we water-skied at the camp, it was a sport. I was a fully qualified swimming instructor and lifeguard." Not blessed with tremendous height, the retired local teacher still carved out a 14 year career in football.

"I started in high school and played at McGill (University), and came back and played with the (Sudbury) Hardrocks", added Gougeon. "I took a couple of years off and came back to Laurentian in 1967 and played there for a couple of years. That was the end of my career - I wasn't going to the CFL."

Yet it was easily the downhill ski circuit where Gougeon has enjoyed the greatest longevity, returning from his ski teaching gig at Marble Mountain in Newfoundland this past winter, in plenty of time to join the Class of 2018 Hall of Fame crew at a breakfast reception in Sudbury in early May.

The lure of the slopes have long called Gougeon, dating back to his adolescence in northern Ontario. "I skied when I was a teenager, I skied in high school, I skied under (fellow Hall of Famer) Ellis Hazen at Tech with the Nickel Teen Ski Club," summoned the still-talkative senior from the memory banks.

"When I had children, they started skiing at two, three and four years of age. So I got together with Bob Rogers at Laurentian and we started Adanac Laurentian Ski Team. We started them off at the university, because they had a little hill, and then we went to Adanac."

Despite the lack of substantial elevation in the Sudbury area, Gougeon, Rogers and their brethren still managed to produce an impressive core of local ski talent. In fact, the newly annointed Hall of Famer suggested that a quicker treck down an abbreviated slope might well have paid dividends, in some cases.

"The chair lift was shorter, so the kids could get a lot of runs in, and they got good - very good," stated Gougeon. But true to his full-time career teaching profession, Gougeon would derive the greatest enjoyment working with the absolute beginners.

"I would teach the "never evers"," he said with a smile. "They had never skied before. At one time at Adanac, we had 165 kids skiing. We had so much fun for those kids. I guess for about 15 to 20 years, I did that."

And along the way, he would mix in some time for a whole slew of other sports. Because when it comes to the Gougeon clan in Sudbury, it's not all about alpine skiing.

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