Bill & Carla Wearmouth: Honoured Pioneers

Providing leadership with World Cup and Olympic events and within the ski community.

Canmore, AB – Bill and Carla Wearmouth moved mountains to support ski racing in Alberta from the 1960’s to the early 90’s and it is an honour to induct them into the Canadian Rockies Ski Racing Hall of Fame. Together they had 9 kids (kind of a Brady Bunch type family) and put all of them through ski racing. In the early years they volunteered at entry level races. Bill once made a comment on how unorganized a particular race was that he was helping at. Another volunteer said “well if you can do better then be my guest.” He was Chief of Race at the next event. That began his 30 year volunteer journey, and Carla jumped right in. Bill was a force. He was Race Chair or Chief of Race at numerous Pontiac and Shell Cup races in the 70’s. Possibly his greatest impact and contribution was his role with the first World Cup Downhill run in Canada: Lake Louise in 1980.

The final downhill of the World Cup Tour at Chamonix, France had been cancelled and the FIS wanted to choose a venue, as the downhill title had not been won.. Following a dramatic negotiation between World Cup Chairman Serge Lang and Canada’s World Cup subcommittee member Peter Andrews, it came down to Bad Kleinkirchheim, Austria and Lake Louise, Canada.

With sponsors and a keen venue in-hand Canada was awarded the bid. But who was to lead a Race Committee with limited international experience and four weeks to put the project together?

Bill stepped up.

A Race Chairman for this dedicated team of volunteers, hotel rooms were found, the race track built, safety installed, timing wiring strung, TV cable rolled out, sponsors and funds found.  And on Wednesday, March 4,, 1980 history was made in front of an estimated crowd of 10,000 who came out to watch the speed skiers of World Cup alpine ski racing.

The event was a huge success, marking the beginning of a Canadian World Cup Legacy that has lasted for 42 years. Delivering a race on such short notice with an entirely volunteer crew so impressed FIS President Marc Hodler he later stated this competition the watershed moment in Calgary’s push for the 1988 Olympic Winter Games.

Bill was unbelievably dedicated to safety in ski racing. He designed the first A Net and had the Alberta Team athletes build it in his garage for the 1980 WC. There was one piece used on Coaches Corner and one piece used on the top of the island on C turn. He actually invented the Willy Bag which many of us are personally thankful for.  Over many years that followed, Bill went on the Race Chair/Chief of Race numerous WC races, NorAm’s, Juvenile Nationals, Westerns, Provincial races. If he wasn’t running the race he could always be found as Starter or even Gatekeeping. He was the lead on the mountain selection committee for the ‘88 Olympics, Chairman of Alpine Events for ‘88 and Chief of Race for the Ladies DH and SG.  What a legacy!!

Carla was with Bill all the way and also worked tirelessly on and off the hill to support Alpine ski racing at the local and world level. She created and began Alpine Chair of the Rocky View Ski Racing Team at Norquay, Lyon Mountain Racing Team at Lyon Mountain (which became Wintergreen) and eventually the Kananaskis Alpine Ski Club which still exists today at Nakiska. She filled roles such as chief of hostessing at many events including the 1980 WC and Shell Cup at Lake Louise, and was Chief of Course Control at the ’88 Olympics.

Many of us in this room remember Carla at nearly all the local races, always on the course volunteering and pitching in wherever needed. She even stepped in as club van driver. Her dedication was immense.

We are reminded of the legacy left by the Wearmouth’s each time we watch the World Cup opener at Lake Louise. Thousands of aspiring Alberta athletes have trained and raced at Nakiska where their youngest son, Scott now heads up the local events. Bill and Carla were true Pioneers in the sport.

The Canadian Rockies Ski Racing Hall of Fame is pleased to recognize Bill and Carla Wearmouth, our 2022 Honoured Pioneers, for a lifetime of passion for ski racing and ski community leadership.

Author: Tasha Tallas

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