Alta states 

The passing of the guard: Alpine Canada and the changing face of skiing


"Accountability to an independent group which measures your progress and evaluates your plan prior to advancing funding is a very important component of the Own the Podium process."

- ACA president, Gary Allen

I've always loved ski racing. The speed, the danger, the excitement: those qualities have always played large in my imagination. Indeed, back when I was a kid, the arrival of the planet's best skiers at Quebec's Mont Ste. Anne for World Cup Week was cause for great celebration.

And why wouldn't it be? Among the ski racing grommets I hung out with back then, the pleasure of hosting such a prestigious event was nearly unbearable. It was almost like Christmas all over again; there was something magical, exotic - quasi-religious - about the week. And we took full advantage of the racers' stay.

During the whole week they were in town, our little pack of club racers would follow the likes of Gustavo Thoeni and Piero Gros and Patrick Russell and slavishly copy their every move. If Gustavo's little pinky shot out from his pole at some strange angle, you can be sure that all of us displayed that exact same angle for the rest of the season. If Russell's avalement technique got a little radical on the steeps, so be it. We all sat back and got radical too. And willy-nilly, more by osmosis than anything else, we slowly became better skiers.

To say that ski racing would dominate my life for the next 20 years is but a slight exaggeration. Racing, coaching, travelling the globe - my obsession with competitive skiing served me well. I got to work in a variety of countries, managed to ski in every major alpine nation, and made lifelong friends around the world. I even got to watch one of my former young charges win a World Cup downhill in his own backyard.

Remember Rob Boyd's victory 21 years ago? People can talk about this year's Olympic "celebrations" all they want, but in my books Boyd's party that evening was easily the most fun victory celebration ever organized at Whistler.

Why? Because every one in town got into the swing of things. It was a Whistler party run by Whistlerites. And we didn't need 5,000 cops to make sure we all partied safely.

But I'm getting sidetracked. Where was I? Oh yeah. Downhill racing. Back when Boyd won at Creekside, ski racing was still pretty much the only sports game in town. Sure the freestylers were already playing in the bumps and this thing called snowboarding was beginning to turn heads. But they still didn't measure up. Wicking gates was still considered by Whistler locals to be wickedly cool.

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