This successful builder took the skills that he learned on the hills of the Port Arthur Ski Club and went on to become one of the most successful alpine ski coaches ever produced in Canada. His accomplishments on the slopes as a competitor included a silver medal in slalom at the 1967 Canada Winter Games, the combined title at the 1967 Canadian Junior Championships and time spent as a member of the Canadian Alpine Ski Team.
Working with the Head Ski Company's Pro Racing Team in the early 1970s, he made his way back to the Canadian National Alpine Ski Team as a coach. Working with the women’s team, he created and designed programs to meet the needs of his athletes. His strategy was a success with Kathy Kreiner claiming Olympic gold in 1976 in the giant slalom.
Taking over the reigns of the Men's National Team in 1977, 'JR', as he was known, was responsible for guiding them through the era of the Crazy Canucks, which is remembered today as the heyday of Canadian alpine skiing. Under his tutelage his skiers, including the likes of Ken Read, Dave Irwin, Dave Murray, Steve Podborski and Todd Brooker, produced an unprecedented 13 World Cup race victories, an overall World Cup title and an Olympic bronze medal. Named the first Master Coach in skiing by the Coaching Association of Canada in 1980, he continued to lead the Men's team until 1983.
Returning to Alpine Canada in 1990, he served two years as their CEO playing a major role in re-organizing the association, securing corporate sponsors, re-negotiating television rights and bringing some much needed financial stability to the organization. During his tenure Kerrin Lee-Gartner won an Olympic gold medal for Canada in the women's downhill.
Making the jump from skiing to football, he spent two years as Vice-Chairman of the Ottawa Rough Riders, helping with the clubs financial turnaround. Serving as an Alternate Governor of the Canadian Football League, he chaired the Television and Marketing Committee and served as a member of the CFL Player Relations Committee.
The accomplishments made by this outstanding builder of sport has ensured that the name of John Ritchie will be remembered as an individual who played a significant role in producing some of the most memorable moments in our nation's sporting past.
Inducted into the Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame, September 29, 2007