Judy Dickson: Honoured Volunteer

Ski racing relies on dedicated volunteers to cover the wide range of tasks to run a safe, efficient competition. But the glue that holds it all together is rarely seen on the slope. At the core of every race is a talented and determined individual tied to the race office, ensuring schedules are circulated, points are updated and correct, draws are ready and results are posted efficiently after the event. Hours, upon hours, of selfless hard work.

These are our Race Administrators. And Judy Dickson sets the tone and pace of every race she takes on, which are many throughout every season.

“Judy has a hard work, never say never attitude” shared one senior race official. “She is always willing to help out at any level of racing and often opens up her home to volunteers who require a place to stay. Her sunny disposition and a welcoming smile relaxes the entire event crew and any Technical Delegate that has the pleasure to work with her.”

Judy, husband Gary Foster and their three children Sean, Eric and Rhea, established themselves at Panorama in 2005 to enjoy their love of skiing. It did not take long before the community roped in the entire family. “We were skiers but certainly not racers” recalled Judy. “At the encouragement of our neighbors, we joined Team Panorama and the journey began. Our 3 children raced with Team Panorama, starting in the winter of 2005/2006. Our daughter raced  through U16 and our sons through 1 and 2 year of FIS.  My husband and I became volunteers, as we followed our 3 young racers at each of their events.  The family’s first ski race, was of course the Putnam!!”

Between Judy and Gary, they covered the full range of volunteer positions. While Gary is on the hill and moving about the race course, Judy can be found as a welcoming face at the start or at the finish line, or deep in the race office as an “RA”. She has done it all: Gate judge, hand timing, timing systems and into the key role of Race Administrator. Judy has volunteered enthusiastically for events from the Linda Putnam Memorial race for our youth to Nor-Am races for our rising stars to the highest levels with the 2015 Para-alpine World Championships and our annual World Cups. From her base with Team Panorama, Judy typically supports as many as seven events per year as Race Administrator, but as one of our most dedicated volunteers, she is always available for any position in Alberta and BC.

Managing the annual Nor-Am races is no easy task. Full race fields, both genders, racing the same day on different tracks, athletes and coaches of many nationalities and meeting the exacting standards of the FIS – or your race result will not upload to the web site – is a task that demands experience, patience, diplomacy, leadership, discipline and good humour.

“I don’t start a ski season without a long call out to Phyllis Kennedy (our 2015 Honoured Lifetime Official), the Race Administrator Goddess of Canada” said Judy. “Thank you, Phyllis, for leading the troops.” Our RA’s are the lynchpin to any successful race. Everything must be in order before the event, during the event and upon completion. The entries correct, the start lists accurate, meetings efficient, DSQ’s posted and results produced immediately. From the outside it looks easy, but within the race office the pressure of time and the expectations of the race community enormous.

“I’ve been one of the Nor-Am RA’s in Panorama since 2009, lead since 2012. These events are fun and challenging and I’m privileged to work with top FIS TD’s. In my work as an RA in this and other FIS events, both Canadian and US TD’s have all been outstanding and always bring positive suggestions and input in order to improve everyone’s race experience, including my own.” And both Alberta Alpine and BC Alpine respond to my every query. So I have to recognize the staff of both the PSO’s. And then there are the timers, without their diligence the race just wouldn’t happen. It’s a long list, and I enjoyed working with each and every person.”

“Love the sport and love the people in it. Ski racing families are dedicated and hard working, so enjoy your ski racing days and have fun. Recognize what your parents and the ski community have done for you. It is a lot! And special recognition to Gary Foster, my outstanding husband, without your support I couldn’t do any of what I do for the ski race community.”

We salute and thank Judy Dickson, our Honoured Volunteer for the 2020 Canadian Rockies Ski Racing Hall of Fame, for her tremendous dedication to our athletes, our sport and for her positive spirit and incredible volunteer ethic.