RECIPIENT OF THE 2011 DISTINGUISHED ALUMNI AWARD Ski Resort Operations and Management alumnus was presented with Selkirk College’s Distinguished Alumni Award at this year’s Graduation Ceremony.
I attended the Ski Resort Operations and Management (SROAM) program from 1983-84 and Peter Wood was the instructor at that time. It was a one-year program and you had to select an Inside Operations or an Outside Operations stream. Peter allowed me to take a few of the outside courses which gave me exposure to a variety of subjects. There was also a winter practicum and I worked at Mt. Washington on Vancouver Island. Eddy Schum was the General Manager and he had me work in a number of different departments such as the cafeteria, bar, ski school, lifts and grooming. Prior to Selkirk I had graduated from Carleton University with a Bachelor of Commerce Degree. I had moved to Whistler and was working as a ski instructor as well as a number of other
tourism related jobs.
I knew I wanted to continue in the ski business and also knew that I needed to “kick start” my career as I was stuck as a ski instructor. I investigated the SROAM program in Nelson and knew it was exactly what I required to get a fresh start.
As I was graduating from Selkirk College the Whitewater Ski Society was advertising the job for a new General Manager. Peter Wood encouraged me to apply for the position and I did thinking that if I was given an interview it would be a good experience to go through the interview process. To my surprise, they offered me the position and I started in September of ‘83.
My wife Shelley and I are in Europe for two months travelling in a camper van visiting different parts of France, Italy, Sardinia, Greece and possibly Switzerland. We are having a great time and the time is flying by. When I was contacted with the news I was surprised that the Board of Governors would recognize me in such a fashion! I would also like to thank the people that nominated me for the award as their letter was very flattering.
The Selkirk alumni have played an important role at Selkirk College as it has allowed students presently attending the college to look to their future and see the possibilities and potential they will have when they graduate. It gives the student body a continuity factor. On a personal note I was honoured and flattered with the award.
Since graduation, I have remained connected with Selkirk College through the ski resort and the Advisory Committee. Whitewater would often host groups of students and instructors, to give presentations and answer questions on the many aspects of the resort and the business in general.
The resort has hired more than 100 students either upon their graduation or for their practicum. I was also on the Advisory Committee for the course to assist the SROAM program to stay current and to keep abreast of the many changes in the ski business. The program has evolved and is now a two-year
program studying all aspects of the ski business.
The ski business has changed dramatically over the past 30 years and the resorts are now four season resorts offering a wide variety of sports and activities and competing world wide for customers. The ski product has improved with large advances in lifts, grooming and customer service. The ski business in the Kootenays has had to keep pace with the other resorts and at the same time they have kept their heritage charm that makes them so popular. They continue to
offer some of the best skiing in North America and still have a family-type resort feel to them. It is this combination that has allowed them to be successful.
The ski business has some very real challenges in the future with a shrinking client base and increasing competition from all styles of resorts. All resorts will have to address the challenge of attempting to maintain and increase the number of overall skiers.
The Kootenay resorts will face this same problem but have a competitive edge as they are offering a unique product to a niche market.