Andrew Abbott: Honoured Volunteer

Dedication to athletes and relentless effort to providing outstanding events in our community.

Canmore, AB – People familiar with Ski Racing understand there are a few typical paths to falling in lifelong love with the sport: either your family has participated for generations or someone in the family has accomplished great success… Andrew Abbott took a path little travelled.  Known to many as AA (pronounced: Eh! Eh! Double Eh! A Squared, or many other variations), Andrew is well known in the ski community not because he was a famous Canadian Downhiller, or married a ski racer, or was the son of ski racers.  No, Andrew is a familiar name because of the countless hours he’s spent on the hill supporting our racers. 

Andrew’s ski story begins at the age of 5 when his parents decided to move the family out West to Calgary.  Peering up at slopes of the Rocky Mountains his parents thought if they were going to live here Andrew better learn how to ski.  He quickly took to the sport and was encouraged by his instructors to join SkiMeisters at Mount Norquay where he entered the Nancy Greene program.  Andrew discovered early on that his passion was not to be on the National Team but instead “be able to ski anything, anywhere with anyone!” He also knew that the best way to refine these skills was through ski race programs.  He remembers the great advice given by coaches like Glenn Thomsen, Ken Marchand, Vanita Haining, Cam and Stu Bailey, and Dave Greig who kept on pushing him to improve as he worked his way into racing FIS.

Not long thereafter, school and business took over the majority Andrew’s time but the sport was not forgotten.  He realized he had entered the next phase of his love for the sport… a bit of coaching and volunteering lead him to a conversation with Mike Irwin and Cam Bailey.  They convinced Andrew to join them at Interbourse, the annual international stock exchange ski race championship. This annual event brings together many former top athletes who work in the industry where these captains of finance compete head-to-head.  Andrew’s first competition was in Aspen in 1996, the Alberta Team won its first Interbourse Championship!  The competitive nature of the event re-ignited his passion for the sport and Andrew would spend the next 20 years travelling the World to well-known Ski Racing destinations like Kitzbuhel, Wengen, Val d’Isere, Chamonix and St. Anton contributing to the success of Team Alberta at many Interbourse Championships.

Exposure to these epic Ski Racing destinations inspired him to re-commit to the sport and again begin to volunteer and support the young racers of the next generation.  He would spend time earning credentials and watching the “dedication of others like Marj Ritchey, Dorothy Bailey, Mike and Bill Irwin, Darrell McLachlan, Doug Campbell, Randy Tarchuk, Lisa Thomson and countless others who have spent tireless hours ensuring safe and fair ski racing exists in Alberta and Canada.”  He admits he was fortunate to “learn from the best, so he too could help and give back to the ski community”.  This crew of volunteers has earned a deserved reputation as one the most efficient and reliable race organizers in North America. 

Among numerous Nor-Am and FIS officials’ postings, Andrew’s greatest accomplishment, so far, was the recent World Junior Ski Championship in Panorama 2022 where he was Chief of Race for the Slaloms.  A slalom track that’s gained an international reputation as the toughest technical track in Canada.  Andrew comments: “It was fantastic to contribute to the success of the next generation… helping to provide a safe and challenging venue for all competitors”. 

Andrew independently paved his own way into the ski racing world.  He is thankful for his wife Carolyne “who has let (him) live out childhood dreams of racing again and exploring the world”.  He also recognizes he could not have accomplished all he has without the support of his parents and his siblings.

When asked about what advice he would like to pass on to young racers Andrew comments “Work hard to attain your goals and keep pushing to be better – your dedication to the sport will provide you with the life skills to assist you in your future success”.  Andrew recognizes the sport provided him skills such as perseverance, risk management, independence and initiative which have all contributed to his success on the hill and in the business world.

Well done Andrew!

The Canadian Rockies Ski Racing Hall of Fame is pleased to recognize Andrew Abbott, our 2022 Honoured Volunteer, for a lifetime of passion for ski racing and as an ambassador to the sport.

Please join us on November 8th at the Malcolm Hotel in Canmore to honour the Class of 2022.

Author: Geoff Irwin