The scars has healed in a matter of a few years, but the memory lingers on. Chances are, no matter how old he lives, Michael Young will always remember the day he came within inches of losing his life in an icy chute of a bobsled runaway at Lake Placid, N.Y.
The details remain etched on the mind of this Port Credit native- at least most of it. It happened during the winter of 1966 (the year after Young helped Canada win a bobsledding gold medal in the world championship) on a brittle wintery day with the mountain side of the New York State resort snow paradise providing a panoramic backdrop to a real life drama that started out as a thriller and ended in a tragedy. During the North American bobsled championship the sled of the favorite Canadian team turned over while negotiating a dangerous "death" curve and crashed into the lip of the runaway. Olympic and world medallist driver Sergio Zardini was killed instantly. Two other members of the Canadian quartet- Quebecker Paul Levesque and Bob Storey from Ontario- both walked away suffering relatively minor bruises.
Young, 21 years of age at the time, and a graduate of Port Credit Secondary School was not so fortunate. Unconscious with head injuries, he was rushed to a Lake Placid hospital and when his condition improved sufficiently, was flown to a Montreal hospital, to undergo a month of extensive plastic surgery.
"I do remember the day and the run, but I don't have a recollection of the crash itself," Young said just a few days before he became one of the five original inductees into the Mississauga Sports Hall of Fame in 1975. Even though he had felt the icy breath of death itself, the tragedy didn't put an end to the love affair between the Mississauga man and the lightweight metal sled that make bobsledding one of the most dangerous and thrilling and definitely most sophisticated of all sled sports. He was back on the sled again the following year. Poor weather conditions prevented the '67 world championship to be staged at Alpe d'huez, an hour's drive from Grenoble in the French Alps. In '68, he was back on the runway again, finishing 11th in the two man bobsled global competition.
Young got his first taste of the trill of bobsledding when he was a student at the University of Western Ontario involved in sports. "I was always sports-minded, at Port Credit and Western, I played football," he recalled. He received a telephone call from his cousin, Vic Emery, the man who shocked the world and put Canada in the golden book of bobsledding with Canada's only Olympic victory in '64. Emery wanted to know if his cousin Michael was interested in filling in for an injured member of the Canadian team for the world championship in St.Moritz, Switzerland.
Yes, Michael was indeed, interested. Little did young suspect that a few days after the call-of-the-wild in 1965, in the bitter cold of the Swiss Alps he would have his first spill in a practice run, followed by a bronze medal with Emery in the two-man bobsled and finally the golden moment of the big prize - a world championship crown in the four-man bobsled with Emery, Peter Kirby and Gerald Presley.
Memory of the St.Moritz victory is about the only one that matches that of the Lake Placid crash. Young and his teammates became honored members of Canada's Sports hall of Fame. In 1975, he moved first to Denver, Colorado and later to Dallas, Texas as a private sector business consultant.