April 30, 2020
Each year, CWSAA recognizes extraordinary leaders in the Western Canadian ski industry. Like every other year, there were so many names put forward that are deserving of recognition.
Unlike before, this year, the awards could not be announced and celebrated in person. The unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic has forced every event worldwide to be cancelled – the 2020 CWSAA Spring Conference and Trade Show, was to have taken place this week in Whistler. “While the conference could not occur, it was incredibly important that these outstanding individuals be recognized,” said CWSAA CEO Christopher Nicolson. “During this time, the celebration of excellence will hopefully bring inspiration to the industry.”
The CWSAA Board of Directors has selected three award recipients this year. Over the past two days, each of the recipients was announced and recognized through a special video presentation. The recipients of the 2020 CWSAA Awards are:
- 2020 Lars Fossberg Excellence Award – Pat Boyle
- 2020 Jim Marshall Leadership Award – Rob McSkimming
- 2020 Jimmie Spencer Lifetime Achievement Award – Mike Wiegele
See below for recipient biographies and links to their video presentations. CWSAA would like to thank all the contributors who put forward the nominations and helped prepare the presentations.
For the first time, go2HR and CWSAA also recognized a rising star of safety in the ski industry. The 2020 go2HR Young Safety Mogul Award was presented to Emily Duhaime of Fernie Alpine Resort. On April 29, Fernie Alpine Resort’s Sandy Mason presented the award to Emily.
Congratulations to all the recipients.
Pat Boyle, Leitner Poma
2020 Lars Fossberg Excellence Recipient
Pat began his ski lift career as a journeyman millwright at Big White in 1979. Before joining Poma of America, he spent four years at Apex Mountain as the Mountain Manager.
In 1988, his relationship with Poma of America began while working for another contractor on the new Whistler Village Gondola installation. Pat set himself apart from others as a hard worker and dedicated leader of work crews. Poma went on to hire Pat as the Poma Canada representative. Since that time he has been the leader of Poma Canada West.
Pat’s determination which quickly formed a good impression with clients secured great relationships and strong credibility with his clients. Pat would never turn a job down, regardless of engineering challenges or difficulties to install.
Pat always leads by example and his crews enjoyed working with him. Pat has some character traits that were tremendous attributes to working on and completing projects in almost always difficult and challenging mountain construction: a positive attitude (his daily, “And how are we today!” with a huge smile) and the “I don’t know exactly how we are going to get this done, but we will get it done!” approach to virtually every challenge.
Pat has personally directed new lift installation projects for 30 years at Big White, Whistler, Revelstoke, SilverStar, Kicking Horse, Lake Louise, Sunshine Village, Norquay, Grouse Mountain, Mt Baldy, Nakiska to name a few. Some of those projects were way more challenging than others, but always with that can do positive attitude…. “And how are we today!”
2020 Jim Marshall Leadership Award Recipient
In the late 1990’s Rob McSkimming had a vision to use lifts for mountain biking. This concept was virtually unknown at the time but he was able to convince Whistler Blackcomb to support this concept.
His commitment and dedication and vision in the product resulted in Whistler Blackcomb being recognized as the world leader in Bike Park facilities. More importantly the success of the Whistler Mountain Bike Park raised interest in mountain biking North America wide, including CWSAA member resorts.
Lift accessed mountain biking grew by leaps and bounds as Rob continued to innovate the sport. This is one of many examples of Rob’s ability to dream, plan and execute big ideas. Rob is one of those visionary leaders and that is why Rob has a loyal team that loves to work for him. Rob built a strong team and was a mentor to many – building and developing the park, evolving trail design to create the first machine built jump trail, A-LINE. Like everything that Rob does, he never stops at one success, but to look for options to drive the success further.
Rob was instrumental in the creation and development of Crankworx, the world’s largest mountain bike festival. Starting from a multi-day festival in Whistler and growing it to a multi-stop world tour. Through his experience in events, Rob took on the rebirth of the World Ski & Snowboard Festival. He brought the “Saudan Couloir Extreme Race” back to lineup, an event that brought Olympic Ski racers, professional freeskiers, and locals out of the woodwork to participate in a legendary race.
As director of the Snow School, Rob worked with Bart Barczynski to create Never Ever Days at Whistler Blackcomb. An idea so absurd, but one that Rob believed in; to offer a weekend of free lift, lesson, rental packages to hundreds of beginner skiers and riders. An opportunity to grow the sport and to create lifelong skiers & riders. Whistler Blackcomb continues to offer NED, which has also been picked up nationally.
After 38 years at Whistler Blackcomb, Rob McSkimming has retired from his position as Vice President of Business Development. Less than 60 days after retirement, Rob donned the Whistler Blackcomb Snow School uniform to teach the Prime Minister and his family through the holidays, continuing to share his passion for the sport.
Recently Rob began a new project – development solutions and project management for the leisure and entertainment industry.
Mike Wiegele, Mike Wiegele Helicopter Skiing
2020 Jimmie Spencer Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient
While growing up on a farm in Austria, Mike’s passion was skiing and racing. Despite his family’s resistance and his obligations on the farm, he succeeded in getting his training. He was a ski race competitor in both Europe and Canada during the 1960’s.
As a man who loved the mountains, Mike left Austria, the birthplace of skiing, and immigrated to Eastern Canada in 1959 to work as a carpenter. He later took a job at Mount Tremblant working for legendary ski-school director Ernie McCulloch.
In the early 1960’s, after moving out West, Mike obtained Canadian Ski Instruction Association Level 4 certification. In 1965, Mike became the Director of the Lake Louise Ski School and a coach of a number of National Team racers including Ken Read. Mike and Bonnie Wiegele got married in 1967 after meeting in Lake Louise.
In his spare time he would explore the nearby majestic mountains, searching to find the deepest, lightest powder snow possible. In 1970, Mike started taking guests out on daily ski trips into the Cariboo Mountains. In 1972, Warren Miller agreed to come and make the first film. As the word about Wiegele’s new heliskiing haven started to trickle out guests from around the world started to sign up.
As great as the skiing was around Valemount, Mike Wiegele was not satisfied. He wondered why locals kept talking about Blue River, an hour’s drive farther south. After meeting “Grandma” Molly Nelson, an amateur meteorologist, she had recorded that storms dropping three or four feet of snow at a time were a regular occurrence and the wind patterns were far gentler in Blue River than further north. He decided to move his operations south to Blue River in 1974.
At this time, he started to buy land and develop a full service resort for a world-wide growing clientele. Building guest chalets, and a main guest lodge, fitness centre, dining rooms and massage clinic throughout the 80s. In the 90s, the operation expanded to offer summer activities such as helihiking, biking and fishing.
The Canadian Ski Guide Association was founded by Mike Wiegele in 1990. The association trains and develops young Canadian as ski guides. One of Mike’s mandates is to give others the chance to experience the mountains of the area. In addition, he would like to provide those passionate about the mountains with the ability to gain long term employment.
Mike has received a Medal for Bravery from the Governor General of Canada. This medal is awarded to individuals who have risked their lives to rescue and to protect others from harm. He has also received the Jim Marshall Leadership Award from the Canada West Ski Areas Association for outstanding contribution. As well, he has been inducted into the Canadian Skiing Hall of Fame.
Today Mike continues to develop his business nestled between the Cariboo and Monashee mountain ranges in Blue River, BC. It is one of the largest heliski area in the world, encompassing 1.2 million acres (4,506 square km or 1,740 square miles) of terrain. In 2001, Michelle Wiegele succeeded her dad as president of Mike Wiegele Helicopter Skiing.
As the founder and owner of Mike Wiegele Helicopter Skiing, Mike proudly carried his Austrian heritage into the majestic mountains of Western Canada – and in so doing established a business here that has no equivalent anywhere else on the planet. Today, the Wiegele name is synonymous with helicopter skiing around the world. His energy, his vision has created a wonderful bridge between the two countries. That’s why Mike was awarded Austria’s prestigious Gold Medal (“Goldenes Verdienstzeichen”) by Austria’s Ambassador to Canada, the honorable Wendelin Ettmayer in December 2003.
Mike Wiegele still skis as much as possible, living true to his motto: “Let’s Go Skiing!”