From Sun Valley victories to benders with Beckham, two-time MLS goalkeeper
of the year Joe Cannon has built a life between the sticks BY BRYCE HUBNER
In Good Hands
In the mid-1980s, Joe Cannon and his twin brother, Jon, were known as the
next Phil and Steve Mahre: tiny twins bombing around the slopes of Sun Valley,
Idaho, and collecting ski racing trophies by carving up USSA’s Intermountain
Now, Joe Cannon is better known as one of the best goalkeepers in Major
League Soccer (MLS) history. After more than 300 career starts, he sits second
on the overall career goalkeeping stat sheet, second in career saves, and fourth
in career shutouts (particularly impressive since he’s spent the past four seasons
on expansion teams). In his 12-plus-year career as a professional — which included a year at RC Lens in France’s top division, League 1 — Cannon has also
garnered two MLS goalkeeper of the year honors and an MLS Cup championship.
Not bad for a kid who started playing footy for the sole purpose of getting his ski
legs in shape.
“My mom only got us playing soccer — when we were about 6 or 7, I think — so
that we could build up our legs and our strength for ski racing,” says Cannon, now
the starting goalkeeper for the Vancouver Whitecaps, which is averaging nearly
21,000 fans per game in its inaugural season.
Cannon’s family spent winters in Sun Valley because his father, Joe Cannon
Sr., was a popular musician who livened up the up the area’s après ski scene in
Ketchum and Hailey. They were magical winters for the future soccer star.
“For me, skiing is kind of spiritual, like surfing in the mountains,” Cannon says.
“Some of my fondest memories as a kid are from when we were 11 or 12 and so
excited to ski that we’d be throwing our thermals on at 6 a.m. and at the mountain
by 7 — there before anyone else was awake, skiing the fresh tracks, and following the ski patrol around. And the racing was awesome, too. We raced for both
Sun Valley and the Hailey Ski Club with people like Picabo Street.”
Joe Cannon makes a diving save against Houston for Vancouver’s 21,000 strong.
BOD FRID / VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC.
SkiRacing.com OCTOBER 31, 2011 | 59