Vanita Haining

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Member from 1972 to 1973


1.    What club did you ski with?  Skimeisters of Calgary

2.    Who were some of your coaches?  I was only on the AST for one year before joining the CAST. I joined the AST when the head coach was Ottmar Setzer.  Those of us on the team that year will never forget the training trip to Jasper:   pilling into the back of Ottmar’s white van with all the skis around us, the jogging sessions 2 times per day and usually in full darkness and the night Ottmar broke his nose (running in the dark). If I recall correctly, he drove himself to the hospital by himself and never missed any on snow or off snow training sessions the next day or for the rest of the trip even though it was obvious he was in a lot of pain!  There were lots of stories we circulated about Ottmar because he was so tough.   Needless to say you did not whine, ever!  Also, I have to mention my Skimeister club coaches here because otherwise they would never be mentioned and they were equally important and influential:  Ken Marchand, Ed  Novotni, Bob and Ron Pearce.

3.    Highlight of your career with the provincial team?   At that time in my ski racing career, we were really just starting to travel for ski races and training.  My best memories are the various trips away from home where we learned how to fend for ourselves, skiing at different ski areas across Canada, test our skills as we took on new challenges (like the Lake Louise downhill back when the S turn was really an ‘S’) and of course met lots of ski colleagues (many of whom were eventually team members on the Canadian team).  We raced the Pontiac Cup Circuit and eventually were introduced to the CanAm series.  All of this was so exciting as you tried to prove yourself.  Our targets were the Canadian Ski Team members:  Carolyn and Cheryl Oughton both Skimeister alumni, Betsy Clifford, Judy Crawford, Laurie and Kathy Kreiner, Ginny Honeyman, Monica Sloan, to name a few.

4.    Highlight of your ski racing career?  In terms of results my last 2 years were the most fruitful.  4th overall CanAm series (now called NorAm) in 1977. I had several top 3 placings in the CanAm that year:  2nd in Slalom in Sun Valley Idaho, 3rd in Downhill at Red Mountain. I was the 1978 Canadian Slalom champion.

5.    Who were some of your teammates?  Joanne Becker and Pat Gordon from Banff ski runners, Loni + Linda Klettl, and Chris McCready from Jasper Ski Club, my sister Debbie and Sharon FitzGerald from Skimeisters.  The guys were:  Rob Henderson and Philip Venner from Edmonton Ski Club, Phil and Pete Monod from Banff Ski Runners; Mark Bowman, Mike Irwin, Ken Read and Frank Sutherland  from Lake Louise ski Club,  Bob Lehodey, Glen Thomsen, Dave Greig, Bill Cooper, Keith Humfreys and John Hilland from Skimeisters (although technically they could have been from the Calgary Ski Team at the same level and two more guys from Snow Valley Ski Club, Scott Lyons  and Bob Ross.  Sorry if I missed anyone!!

6.    Do you have any tips you’d like to pass on to young racers? 
1.    Work hard but enjoy the overall experience.   Sometimes when you try harder (work harder, be more serious) it does not achieve better results.  My best results came each time I had decided to quit. When I relaxed and enjoyed myself I performed better.
2.    Express gratitude to those that volunteer.
3.    Keep your ego in check.
4.    Remember there is only one first place – your self-worth should never be determined by your results.
5.    This is an event where size matters (gravity and power).  If you are small, It will likely be hard to podium even if you are an excellent skier! Take pride in your achievements, and/or have patience if you think it will pay off or you enjoy it anyway.
6.    Understand that your support system will always be at the club level.  At that CAST level you are just an asset.

7.    What are you doing now?    I graduated from the University of Calgary with a BA in Economics, but ended up in the field of Human Resources.  I was always intrigued by human dynamics / performance and motivation. I am currently on an international assignment in Paris doing international recruiting.

8.    Are you still involved with ski racing? How?  After retiring from racing I returned to my home club and coached for several years during my University years.  At that time I was also involved with the Canadian ski coaches Federation actively teaching and examining new coaches. Eventually (post-coaching ) I became qualified and involved with the officials side of the business – becoming a TD, Technical Delegate in Alberta.   At this point looking back, I have spent more time in the sport as a volunteer and watching my children (Sean and Suzanne Alexander) race.

9.    Would you tell us a little about how ski racing has contributed to your life and work?  My family life was a bit complicated when I was young. Ski racing provided me with an outlet and a place where I could thrive.  In this environment I learned how to be disciplined, how to apply myself (how to set goals and work towards them), work ethic and how to focus.   It was a great place and way to grow up.

10.    Anything else you’d like to add?   With a ratio of 3 to 60+ (podium positions versus racers in any event), ski racing has got to be about more than just winning.