March 1, 2017

FMST Main Long

We’ve come a long way since 1985!

Though this article is not a historical recount of the club we do have a few coaches and parents who have been involved with the club long enough to say there is quite a history and mosaic of change over time. Let’s start with today and do a quick reflection to give a sense of how the phrase “where there is a will, there is a way” can make a difference.

For the first time in…oh…something along the lines of a dozen or more years (and I’ll err on the ‘more’ side of things), our club had some of our skiers compete in the recent U14 Lake Louise and U12 Mt. Norquay Provincial races in February.  To some readers, this might not sound like a reason to write about.

Being in the north of the North Zone where programming for the club has been rather variable over the decades, attending this level of race has not been consistent or common.  This year was a milestone for our Club because it has been so long returning to a level of performance required to fit with the race quality.  To be honest, we didn’t want to just register kids in a Provincial Race, we wanted them to be skiing to a level that balanced being challenged and at the same time not in the deep end unable to swim.   Getting a program in place to translate to a level performance for these racers has been a significant work in progress.  It is also a fairly good investment in time and energy to get to the mountain locations from Fort McMurray, just for a race.  That’s why, this experience for some of our skiers, wasn’t JUST any race.

It wasn’t too long ago, somewhere in the middle of the 1990’s and now, there become a state where there was no visibility to the broader ski racing scene, what Alberta Alpine was, limited competitive element, low engagement in the technical side of race education and coaching alignment with CSCF credentials was inconsistent.

Fast forward a few years and talking with some of or coaches today (with kids now in the program) who skied with this Club ‘back in the day’ as teenagers, they came from the experience of having a strong Head Coach and Program leadership, Provincial Racing then FIS level skiing (which also came with plenty of travel naturally!) and a passion for the sport which now translates into coaching.

So…what happened in the middle years?

Easy question to ask, hard to answer.

Making the change we have over the last few years though comes down to having the right people in the right place with the right focus to support the kids, their energy and love of racing.

It was perfect timing for the movement of change our club needed when the AASA 5 Year Strategic Plan 2014 – 2018 was rolled out.  Applying the core 3 pillars to our club (Development and Retention, High Performance & Excellence, Funding & Sustainability), we moved the dial one season at a time with one of our goals to get ourselves back in the race scene on a consistent basis and participating at Provincial levels.  It takes a full buy-in from a club (racers, parents and coaches) to make such a change happen.

  • We needed to cast the net wide and attract the right Program Leadership. With Rip Pridday and Sue Greenberg being ‘caught’ in that net, our club has been blessed with the dynamic-duo!  They have brought a culture of dedication to the team, personal performance improvement (on and off snow) and what healthy competition means with a full Program and Long Term Athletic Development view.
  • We needed a strong Board with an engaged parent population to support a new financial structure, fundraising program and corporate sponsorship model.
  • We needed to provide a pathway for skiers to remain with the club as coaches along with attracting more coaches with a commitment to the program of development.

And why do all this?  Just take a look at the pictures.

U14 - Team

U14 Team

U14 - Fun Times

U14 Team – Fun Times

U12 - Snow Break

U12 Team – Snow Break

U14 - Backs

U14 Team

U12 - All Ready to Go

U12 – All Ready to Go

These are only a few of our kids of course, and there are plenty of smiles around after each race we attend across the ages.

It struck us as a major milestone to celebrate that after way too long, but with a lot of effort, the right people with the right focus, we are getting back to where the club used to be all those years ago.


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