Running a ski club is a “labour of love”, according to the Smithers Ski and Snowboard Club president Cormac Hikisch, but one that is also tremendously rewarding.
As the club president for past five years – and a former competitor for the same club in the 1980s and early 90s – Hikisch is encouraged by the growth and stability of the program, even during Covid times, and with the announcement of two high quality coaches is brimming with excitement.
The Smithers club recently announced that Leslie Firstbrook has joined as the program director and Dillon Prophet, the U14–U18 lead coach. Firstbrook’s coaching resume is long and impressive, including the Alberta ski team, the Osler Bluff club in Ontario, Nakiska and one season with the Whistler Mountain Ski Club.
Prophet, also an experience coach, has worked with clubs in Alberta and spent two seasons as an assistant coach with the Quebec ski team.
“We’re so excited to have such quality coaches taking the helm,” Hikisch said. “This leadership role will define and build our club programming and provide oversight to all club coaching and athlete development.”
According to Hikisch, the Smithers team is very much looking forward to travelling after a stalled season with Covid restrictions keeping the local ski team training on the same slope every weekend. “It was like groundhog day at the ski hill, but coaches Dick Eastmure, Claire Challen, Clay Collingwood, and Jessica Hall all did a great job getting creative and keeping the athletes challenged, having fun and learning.”
“We’re really looking forward to out-of-community competitions this season, like the BC Winter Games, the Teck Open Races and Whistler Cup in April,” he said.
Active and engaged executive
“We have a great mix of former club alumni and some new blood as well [on the Board], and a mixture of professionals, Hikisch said. “It’s a really keen group for fundraising, organization and all the factors of a non profit. We’ve done some great work with grants; we received a Nik Zoricic grant for safety netting, a local forestry service grant, NDIT supported us for a major cabin upgrade and ViaSport … new gates, radios. We’ve been successful on a lot of fronts.”
But what excites Hikisch the most is the stability and retention of the skiers.
“The momentum of all of our athletes returning is so exciting,” he said. “To have four girls punch into the U18 age group is awesome. “We want to help create skiers for life – first and foremost – and to have an avenue for that calibre of racing is important to us as a club. The number of athletes who have returned just shows that we’re helping them create that passion and to put the effort in. That’s really exciting to me; I’ve seen so many young boys and girls stop playing sports too young.”
All ski racers enrolled with the club returned and the club has grown to over 120 competitors for the 2021-22 season. “It’s the most we’ve had in a generation,” Hikisch beamed.
The club is preparing for trip to the Mt Sima, Yukon, next week. “We’ll based out of Whitehorse with six days on snow planned and also we will utilize the Canada Games Centre for our off snow training.”
The Smithers club continues to prove the value of community, team effort, creativity and quality leadership can propel an organization to great heights.
Smithers Club executive team (2021-22)
Cormac Hikisch (President), Dave Bobb (VP), Ben Weinstein (Treasurer), Jeanne MacNeil (Registrar), Matt Sear (Alpine Chair), Mike Sanborn (Snowboard Chair), Lara Collingwood (Fundraising), Margaret Groves (Director), Gavin Murdoch (U10 Coordinator), Ryan Willman (U10 Coordinator), Charla Kilback (Secretary). And new member Joanne Devlin-Morrison (Fundraising).