Alberta launches Grade 2 free ski program 

Canadian Ski Council miffed at independent action by partnership

The decision by a group of Alberta-based companies and organizations to start a free ski program for Grade 2 students in that province has stunned some industry insiders.

The program, which is being guided by former Olympian Ken Read, has received widespread acclaim since its inception nine days ago but some officials are baffled as to why the Alberta partners chose not to consult with other organizations before implementing the program.

President of the Canadian Ski Council Colin Chedore said he wants Alberta’s free ski pass program to be a success, but he is disappointed that the people involved did not inform the ski council or other organizations, such as the Canada West Ski Areas Association, particularly when Alberta’s program appears to be based closely on the ski council’s Grade 5 program that has been operating for seven years.

Alberta’s program, which will offer free ski passes to more than 40,000 Grade 2 students, was developed by the Resorts of the Canadian Rockies Inc, The Calgary Olympic Development Association and Canada Olympic Park, Alpine Canada and Husky Energy Inc.

Husky, which is one of Canada’s biggest petroleum companies, has the naming rights. Read is president of Alpine Canada.

The Alberta-based partners pitched their Grade 2 program to the public last week as a great way of fighting youth obesity, which has been a potent political topic in recent months.

Chedore’s biggest concern is with the advertising material the partnership is using because he believes it’s "almost exactly the same" as the material the ski council spent a lot of time and money developing for its Grade 5 program.

"I’m sure Ken’s (Read) behind it because we know from meetings with him that he thought Grade 5 was too old and he sits on our board," Chedore said.

"We knew nothing about this until we read it in the Globe and Mail.

"I mean, we could have helped them.

"But it hasn’t cost them anything (to print brochures) because they’ve copied it, 99 per cent, almost word-for-word from our material.

"We’re not happy because no-one asked us for permission… it took us a lot of research and hundreds of thousands of dollars to get that material right.

"I’m sure if anyone did this to Husky there would be a major issue."

Despite the initial shock, Chedore confirmed that the ski council would not be seeking legal action.

The Alberta syndicate has placed many industry representatives in a difficult position because regardless of how or why they did it, the Grade 2 ski pass will create business for the ski industry.

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