If they come, will you build it? For Rob Tupper, a long time ski racing “chief” with the Vernon Ski Club at Silver Star, this was the proposition presented to him a mere three weeks before a scheduled BC Alpine Teck Open race series.
The Vernon Ski Club (VSC) started the season with excitement around hosting three big events – the BC Winter Games, the Over the Hill Downhill and BC Alpine speed camp, but when all three were cancelled they were suddenly a crew without a boat.
But circumstance changed quickly and soon BC Alpine came knocking, asking the club to fill in for a suddenly cancelled Teck Open Series when a devastating fire at the Kimberley Resort burned down the lift control building of the North Star Express lift.
“We went from having three events to having zero … and then the Kimberley lift burned down creating a big gaping hole in the schedule for reasons beyond anyone’s control,” explained Tupper, also an alumnus of Mount Seymour Ski Club and Vancouver Ski Team.
So with three weeks to go Tupper, along with VSC president Lauren Carr and past president Murray Smith, put into action an aggressive plan to build a massive event team in short order. The first order of business, said Tupper, was to rally the troops.
“Lauren and Murray reached out and found the leads and then we started to build the crews,” said Tupper, who’s also working towards a National TD assignment. “We hadn’t hosted a race in over two years and had to dust things off and find all the equipment and get things ready.”
The Race Notice was posted and before you know it 140 racers (90 girls, 60 boys) were registered and it was “go time”.
Along with the leadership of Roger Poole, Program Director of VSC, things moved quickly with systems and physical set ups required to pull off a provincial ski race series. Tupper also included the assigned Technical Delegate (Russell Kirby) as early as possible in the event planning and race details.
BC Alpine added a layer of support to the club when Keven Dubinsky, club services manager, joined the team to help train volunteers in race administration and timing systems set up. And of course the VSC club pulled in all the local ski racing “veterans” to help not only do the heavy lifting but to also train the new families in the club.
With a dedicated race centre at Silver Star – a run which is permanently closed to the public – next came preparing the slope and dealing with everything that Mother Nature threw at them. “Of course the first day is when it snowed the most but the conditions improved throughout the series and then finished on a high with sun and great conditions.”
Another pleasant surprise was the volume of parents from around the province who added volunteer support. “I think there was a lot of pent up demand for people to travel with the teams,” Tupper said, noting that he believes the resort was sold out of accommodations and restaurants were filled, due to the influx of families for the event. Tupper also mentioned that many of his old ski racing compatriots from the 1980s were at this series with their children.
“For me that was one of the most rewarding parts of the race, getting reacquainted with all these people that I used to race with a long time ago,” Tupper said. “And man, the quality of the skiing from the kids was amazing. There wasn’t any racing last year but clearly there was a lot of training as the kids came in here at a really high level.”
“Our objective going into it was for a safe and fair race, even if it wasn’t perfect,” Tupper said. “We can strive for perfection but we will get what we get.”
From all accounts, perfection was nearly achieved.
Photos supplied by Kiss the Monkey photography. Full click HERE to see all images.