Hot on the heels of the World Ski and Snowboard Festival and its instructors festival, both local ski schools added new members to their halls of fame last week.
Long before there were high-speed lifts, overseas visitors or number one rankings in ski magazines, Jim McConkey was one of Whistler’s most recognizable figures. Last Saturday he was one of three people officially inducted into the Whistler Mountain Ski School Hall of Fame.
McConkey came to Whistler Mountain in 1968 to become director of the ski school and run the only ski shop in town. He arrived in a fledgling ski town as a skier of international renown, having appeared in numerous ski films, particularly during his time in Alta, Utah, where he ran the ski shop in the Gold Miner’s Daughter Lodge.
McConkey received his first ski teaching certificate at Lac Beauport, Que. in 1947. He worked under ski school director Luggi Foeger and for Real Charette in Grey Rocks, Que., before moving to the United States. From 1964 to 1968 he operated the ski school, ski shop and rental franchise at Tod Mountain, since renamed Sun Peaks Resort. At the end of the 1968 winter he was invited by the Garibaldi Lift Company’s Jack Bright and Hugh Smythe to come to Whistler. Known as Diamond Jim, he remained with the ski school until 1980.
McConkey is an expert bow hunter and has an extensive collection of classical music recordings. He is now retired and living in West Vancouver, where he spends much of his time playing golf, although he still skis Whistler regularly.
Bob Dufour, the second Whistler Mountain Ski School inductee, also began his ski teaching career in Quebec, joining the Canadian Ski Alliance in 1968 and teaching at Mont Gabriel. In 1972 he came to Whistler to teach in McConkey’s ski school. He became assistant director of the ski school in 1976 and when McConkey left and the school became the Whistler Mountain Ski School in 1980 Dufour was the first director. Dufour became director of marketing for Whistler Mountain in 1985, general manager of operations in 1988 and director of mountain operations in 1995, a position he still holds.
Also honoured at Saturday’s ceremonies in Pika’s was Bill Petersen, the first member of the ski school’s hall of fame, who died last year at the age of 74. Petersen moved to Whistler in 1979, served as a municipal councillor, and taught skiing into his 70s. He was inducted into the hall of fame last year but a ceremony was not held until last weekend. His wife Ruth was presented with a special plaque and Petersen’s photograph will occupy a special place in the ski school building, alongside photos of McConkey and Dufour.
Meanwhile, the Blackcomb Ski and Snowboard School honoured Lorne McFadgen as the first inductee into its hall of fame at a ceremony April 15.
The most experienced instructor at Blackcomb, McFadgen has played a role in the development of Canadian skiing technique as it is today. An instructor for more than 40 years, McFadgen performed as a member and chief delegate of the Canadian National Demonstration Team and has been director of skiing and vice president operations at Talisman Mountain Resort. He joined Blackcomb in 1990.
McFadgen’s photograph and a plaque honouring his achievements will hang on a wall in the Blackcomb day lodge. McFadgen was also presented with a Blackcomb leather jacket.