As a fourth generation “Rossland’er”, Catherine Adair has had front row seats to countless family skiing moments, many of them involving local or regional ski competitions.
Now, in her career as a Manager of Community Development for Teck Resources at their Vancouver head office, Catherine’s favourite topic may still be her Kootenay roots.
“I had a ski pass every year so it’s what we did as a family every weekend,” Catherine explained, about growing up on the slopes of Red Mountain. “I wasn’t much of a ski racer – I did the Nancy Greene ski league for a while – but my sister and my two cousins Jenni and Julia Delich raced competitively.”
During her youth, Catherine got to know many of the ski areas across the province when the family travelled to various ski areas in the interior and Coast, one of the perks of being in a skiing community.
“My grandfather on one side and great grandfather on the other side moved to Rossland to work in the mines,” she explained, when BC Alpine connected with her in March. “Then my grandparents [the Delich’s] operated “Delich Jewelry” in town for a number of years.”
All in the family
Catherine’s mom (Teresa) was a successful national-ranked ski racer, winning the Pontiac Cup in the 1970s, as she trained on the slopes of Red Mountain. And Mike Delich – Catherine’s uncle – was instrumental in the development of ski racing in both Rossland and Fernie. Mike, a long-time FIS Technical Delegate as well as the former Chair of BC Alpine, is a developer and builder in Fernie, where he laid roots in the 1980s, raising daughters Julia and Jenny, both former national team skiers for Canada as well as graduates of NCAA ski racing university programs in the United States.
For Catherine, her professional journey brought her back to Rossland in 2010 when she worked at the Teck Trail Operations Smelter – one of the world’s largest fully integrated zinc and lead smelting and refining complexes – for close to 10 years.
The experience allowed her to experience her hometown as an adult, including all of the outdoor pursuits and snow-filled recreations.
As a long-time sponsor and supporter of BC Alpine and ski club programs across the province, Teck employees are passionate and engaged in community activities. As Catherine explained, a large number of Teck employees live in the communities across the province where ski clubs exist.
“A huge part of living in BC, particularly in the rural areas, is the opportunity to recreate in nature and skiing is such a big part of that,” she said. “A huge amount of our employees are involved with ski programs in BC so we want to support what they are involved in.
“What our communities care about is where Teck wants to be.”
As a sponsor and engaged partner with various sports and arts programs across the province, Teck continues to nurture and help build these community connections through their involvement.
Catherine attended a BC Alpine Teck Coast Zone U16 race in Whistler in February, and was impressed with the skiing level of the racers and the hard working volunteers.
Catherine Adair (left) and Anders Hestdalen (BC Alpine CEO) in Whistler.
“I saw so many people helping with the races, and it seemed to me like a really fun and welcoming community,” she said. It was really fun, it was my second time skiing Whistler. Anders [Hestdalen] showed me around the mountain and it truly is a spectacular and world class resort … and to see the facilities that ski racing has set up there was really impressive.”
Ski racing in BC is no doubt a close-knit community and Catherine can appreciate the volunteerism and professionalism shown by the ski clubs and BC Alpine.
And the experience of growing up in Rossland was something Catherine certainly doesn’t take for granted.
“I was so lucky, it’s such a safe and welcoming community where everyone takes care of each other and there was always something fun to do outside … Rossland will always be home.”
Photo at top: The Teck U16 Western Championships were held at Red Mountain in March. Photo by Steve Hilts – freshshots.ca
An emerging Canadian ski racing phenom made headlines and collected some serious hardware in Prince Edward Island at the 2023 Canada Winter Games.
With steely resolve, a focussed attention to details and an obvious set of impressive skills, Roxy Coatesworth, from Golden, B.C., dominated the competition at Canada’s largest multi-sports games and claimed an impressive four gold medals in four events – super-G, giant slalom, slalom and ski cross. It was a clear sign that a star was unveiled on the slopes of Crabbe Mountain, New Brunswick.
Coatesworth was chosen as the British Columbia flag-bearer at the Closing Ceremony on Sunday. “’Being chosen to hold the flag is a huge honour,” said the 16-year-old with a big smile. “It’s amazing to be able to represent everyone back home and all the athletes around me. I’m proud that I can be looked upon as a good representative for BC.”
Overall, Team BC finished in second place in the medal standings (see table below) behind Quebec who claimed a whopping 151 medals. BC finished with 103 total medals, including 46 gold, 26 silver and 31 bronze medals. In total, 3,600 athletes across 20 sports and 175 events were contested at 18 venues. The event is massive.
The alpine team scored multiple top 15 finishes and five medals in total – including Maddox Johnson, of the Fernie Alpine Ski Team taking a bronze in men’s ski cross – and along with Coatesworth’s four-medal dominant performance, the alpine skiers from BC (full roster below) contributed to the overall success of the provincial totals.
The para skiers from Team BC also had a strong performance at the Games, taking home three medals – a gold, silver and bronze – over two events. Matthew Leach, from the Vernon Ski Club, and Sam Peters, of the Big White Racers finished second and third respectively in the men’s para giant slalom. Leach, 15, went on to win the men’s para slalom, capping an impressive few days of racing for the youngster from Lumby, B.C.
“We went there with the goal of being the best team in all aspects, not only on the hill, but also off the hill, being respectful, engaging, supportive and energized,” said BC Alpine VP Johnny Crichton. “Our team delivered and it was noticed by the rest of the country. Well done, team!”
After a two-year hiatus, the Nancy Greene Festival hosted by Kimberley Alpine Team was reborn and took place February 11-12 at Kimberley Alpine Resort. Under bluebird skies, 150 athletes from Lake Louise (Black Dogs Ski Club), Windermere (Windermere Valley Ski Club), Golden (Golden Kicking Horse Alpine Team), and Fairmont (Team Fairmont) challenged the disciplines of Long Jump, Giant Slalom, Moguls, Speed Trap, and Dual Slalom.
Athletes, volunteers, and coaches were treated to a bbq event at the base of the famous Dreadnaught run. A celebration of participation and team spirit for the athletes’ concluded both days in the main plaza area with everyone taking home a souvenir of their experience in Kimberley.
All in all, the spirit and camaraderie of the Nancy Greene program is alive and well in the Kootenay Zone and the event truly displayed a passionate next generation.
Kimberley Alpine Team would like to thank Kimberley Alpine Resort for the grooming, bbq support, and PA equipment for the awards ceremony. Also a special thanks to Dreadnaught Racing for the use of their timing shack to support our bbq lunch. A special shout out to Save-On-Foods and Shoppers Drug Mart (Kimberley)for their lunch and award donations. To our corporate sponsor Sporting Life, thank you for recognizing the value and importance of development ski programs in British Columbia.
Finally, to all the volunteers (timing, bbq, course workers), coaches, and parents – thank you for going above and beyond in supporting this event – you set the bar high! Until next year….ski fast!
When Jack Crawford battled for a hard-fought bronze medal in the men’s combined in Beijing last week, he kept Canadians and ski racing fans glued to their devices, including his legion of friends and followers at the Whistler Mountain Ski Club.
And before you know it, Crawford, along with his Olympic teammates and fellow Whistler alum Broderick Thompson and Brodie Seger, were right back where it started … in Whistler presenting medals to aspiring ski racing stars at the Janyk Cup.
“It was so magical,” said Mike Janyk, the clubs executive director and former World Cup skier. “To have them right back here connected to the grassroots right after they were on TV was so spectacular.”
Janyk explained that it’s rare for athletes to reconnect with their clubs so soon after a major event like the Olympics. “We saw it in the faces of the kids, the parents and the coaches,” he said. “That energy is so cool to share with everyone, I’m almost speechless about how amazing it was.”
The Whistler club had four skiers representing Canada at the Olympics, including the entire men’s downhill team. Jack Crawford’s bronze was the first Olympic medal for the Canadian alpine team since Jan Hudec’s bronze in Sochi 2014 . Earlier in the week Crawford – who came to Whistler as a teenager from Toronto and the Georgian Peaks Ski Club – finished fourth in the men’s downhill and sixth in super-G, agonizingly close to the podium in both races.
Seger blazed to the third fastest time in the super G portion of the combined and eventually finished ninth after the slalom event. Broderick Thompson finished eighth in both the downhill and combined, capping a solid week for the Canadian men’s speed team.
On Thursday, Whistler’s Marielle Thompson executed a come-from-behind silver medal in the women’s ski cross in Beijing, adding to her massive collection of international hardware. It is the second Olympic medal of the 29-year-old’s career after winning gold in the event at Sochi in 2014. Thompson, sister to Broderick, is considered one of the best skiers to ever compete in ski cross, collecting 50 World Cup medals, two world championship medals and three overall World Cup crystal globes.
Winning at all levels
Now as a spectator, Janyk soaked in the Olympics.
“In one way it’s nice to not have to feel the pressure directly knowing what it’s like to have to perform,” Janyk said. “It was really exciting and I was super stoked … and also feeling for them at times but they really got us on our feet.”
A former slalom specialist, Janyk was impressed with the competition level of the slalom in the combined. “For Jack to put down that run was incredible, I actually thought he was going to beat Kilde … It’s fun to see someone so connected to the snow like he was. He was on, making it look effortless and every time he came out of the start he looked like one of the best in the world, which he clearly is now.”
Meanwhile on the NorAm tour, Whistler alumna Stefanie Fleckenstein sits in second overall in the NorAm standings with 10 podium finishes in 13 starts in NorAms races this season. Fleckenstein, who currently races with the International Ski Racing Academy, has been focused on the World Cup speed tour as well to gain valuable experience, learn the race tracks and regain a spot on the Canadian national team.
Another Whistler racer Cameron Alexander scorched a recent Europa Cup series in Kvitfjell, Norway, winning a downhill and finishing second the next day, followed by a second and fifth place in the super G races. He’s currently in fifth place in the overall Europa Cup downhill standings.
Cameron’s younger brother Kyle, has collected nine NorAm top fives this season, including four wins and currently sits second in the overall Nor Am standings. And Brodie Seger’s brother Riley, splitting his time between the University of Denver and the Canadian national team, has collected six NorAm top fives and three podiums on the NCAA tour this season.
Asher Jordan, a slalom skier out of Whistler, has collected five NorAm podiums this season and sits in second overall in the NorAm slalom standings, in addition to World Cup starts in Adelboden, Kitzbuhel and Schladming.
You get the point.
Whistler’s secret sauce?
The Whistler Mountain Ski Club has a rich history dating back to the 1970s and have had a steady flow of ski racers reaching the provincial and national teams ever since. Starting with Dave Murray in the 1970s, to Rob Boyd in the 1980s, Allison Forsyth and Britt Janyk in the 1990s, Mike Janyk, Manny Osborne-Paradis, Morgan and Conrad Pridy and in the 2000s, to today with seven skiers on the Canadian national team and three on the BC provincial team.
In the Whistler Mountain Ski Club cabin, a “wall of fame” is proudly featured, with current and former national team members. The wall is large.
“There’s a deeply embedded culture in this community around ski racing,” Janyk explained.
Janyk believes one of the key drivers of this culture stems from the willingness of the Whistler community to take on massive events, like World Cups, the Olympics in 2010 and calendar mainstays like the Whistler Cup. He believes these events propel the club and inspire the youth.
“I was on my Dad’s shoulders when Rob Boyd won,” he said, referring to Boyd’s historic men’s downhill win in 1989 to become the first Canadian male racer to win a World Cup downhill in his home country. “And then I got my first signature by Kristian Ghedina in the 1990s at the World Cup here, then later as first year FIS racer I foreran the World Cup.”
“In 2010 at the Olympics in Whistler, how old were Cam and Kyle, Brodie, Riley and Asher? They were that 10-year-old on their parents shoulders watching their heroes.
“Those events, which are an extension of the club and the community and the parents … the will of people who put on these unbelievable undertakings of volunteerism. Talk about community building.”
Janyk commented that beyond marquee events and volunteerism, creative coaches within the club (current and past) have been a major driver of a winning culture which continues to inspire the next generation.
“When I came through the club we had a strong group of kids together and an equally strong group of coaches and we were all ready to push,” he said. “I don’t know how exactly it started and it was probably an organic growth of culture which came from creative coaches and volunteers ready to raise the bar.”
Whistler, the ‘Norway’of North America?
When the Winter Olympics wrapped up on the weekend, Norway stood at the top of the standings, outpacing much larger countries like the U.S., Russia and Canada – despite having a significantly smaller population – you can’t help but think, how do they do it?
And more to the point of this article, is the Whistler Mountain Ski Club the “Norwegians” of ski racing in North America?
The Norwegian sports culture is proving to be unmatched yet simple, at least at present. They have created a pipeline of skiing stars that recharges and replenishes at an exceptional rate. They are so dominant in cross country and biathlon that some countries have conceded gold, opting for a strategy focussed on targeting silver and bronze.
The Norge’s collected three alpine medals in alpine, compared to one each for the U.S. and Canadian alpine teams – Ryan Cochran Siegle, men’s super G silver and Jack Crawford men’s combined bronze (although Alpine Canada would claim Marielle Thompson’s silver in the women’s ski cross to make it two).
Of further interest, 99 Norwegians competed in Beijing, compared to 223 for the Americans and 215 for the Canadians.
The Beijing Olympics came to a close last weekend, setting the stage for the Paralympics beginning in early March, where the Whistler Mountain Ski Club shifts its attention to another world star; Mollie Jepsen, who was a breakout star at the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympics, winning a gold, silver and two bronze medals at her first Games as an 18-year-old.
The Whistler Mountain Ski Club trophy case continues to grow.
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.