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'Goldie' retires after 37 years

BC Alpine CEO Bruce Goldsmid helmed organization for decades

When retiring BC Alpine CEO Bruce Goldsmid arrived at Dusty's on June 10, he thought he was meeting a couple of coaches for a drink and that his wife was away on her annual fishing trip.

Little did he know about 300 people packed the touchstone Whistler saloon to wish him well, with many of them dressed in the maverick's traditional cowboy get-up and sporting moustaches (some of them real) in his honour. Hosts Olympian Mike Janyk and Gordie Bowles (BC Alpine's former athletic director who also served as the bash's head organizer) said another 200 sent their regrets.

"It was a great opportunity to get four generations of people who love ski racing from all across the province (together)," Goldsmid said on June 13.

The party brought out not only lovers of ski racing, but some of the most decorated competitors in Canadian history. Sen. Nancy Greene-Raine and husband Al Raine topped the list, while Olympians Robbie Dixon, and Britt Janyk and Marielle Thompson also made appearances.

Rob Boyd, who Goldsmid said played a major role in helping ensure his longevity, was also there to salute hm.

"We decided to have a big fundraiser (during the 1989 World Cup downhill in Whistler). I was going to bring Colin James and Smokey Robinson into the town centre," said Goldsmid. "We were into it for $200,000 and tickets weren't selling and I thought 'Uh oh, I'm going to have to resign because we're going to lose all this money.'

"Robbie comes down and wins the race and we sold out. Robbie said 'I'm the happiest guy on the mountain' and I said 'I'm the second happiest.' It turned into a big party."

Goldsmid deflected credit for running a successful program for nearly 40 years, instead pointing toward the vast number of people who came through the system for making it work so well. BC Alpine estimated over 40,000 athletes, coaches and volunteers passed through the organization during Goldsmid's tenure.

"It's not built by me," said Goldsmid. "It's built by the oodles of volunteers over the last four decades putting in an inordinate amount of time to make this work.

"It's been a great run. When you have a bunch of people that are passionate about skiing and snow and get them all together, it's great to have that positive energy and contribute to the community."

The three biggest changes in ski racing Goldsmid observed in his time at the helm were costs steadily increasing, increased technicality and athletes being much better prepared.

"The programs that are running at the club level are far superior to what they are when we first started. Before, people did it for fun and over the years, they've become more sophisticated athletically," he said. "The kids that are coming out of the program, aside from being great skiers, are learning so many other skills as well — self discipline and respect for sport."

Sonny O'Sullivan, the first president of Whistler Mountain Ski Club, hired Goldsmid to take over BC Alpine in 1980. While he didn't think Goldsmid would do it for 37 years, O'Sullivan knew he had the credentials to do it well.

"I was positive he could do the job," he said. "He's smart. He was passionate about the sport. He had a good mentor in (former BC Alpine chair) Jimmy Haight."

O'Sullivan observed the CEO role changing over time and that Goldsmid transitioned well between the organization's needs.

"The first half (of his tenure) was development of programs through the whole province. He was talking to clubs and setting up the right programs," he said. "The latter years... he morphed into a fundraiser.

"He raised all that money and got all those sponsors. He's a hard guy to replace."

Goldsmid agreed that one of his major focuses was keeping the sport accessible for those interested even as prices began to go up. He helped secure sponsorships with corporations like Teck, Haywood Securities and Rio Tinto to help offset the costs. In retirement, he plans to advise other sport organizations on how to court such support.

"Because of my experience generating money outside of government, hopefully I can mentor some other people," he said.

Goldsmid also plans to move to Whistler in August 2018 and has offered to help his successor get accustomed to the role.

Goldsmid's father, longtime-Whistler resident Howard, also attended the party

"People appreciated what he'd done, which is a pretty nice honour," the elder Goldsmid said.