Three outstanding individuals were recognized for their contributions to the ski industry at the Canada West Ski Areas Association (CWSAA) 51st annual conference.
- Peter Alder: recipient of the 2019 Jimmie Spencer Lifetime Achievement Award.
- Danny Cox: recipient of the 2019 Jim Marshall Leadership Award.
- Dan Wilson (General Manager, Vista Ridge): 2019 recipient of the Lars Fossberg Excellence Award.
“Excellence in business and as human beings are the expectations of those name bearers of the CWSAA awards,” said Christopher Nicolson, President & CEO of CWSAA. “This year’s recipients illustrate that commitment. The Jim Marshall Leadership and Jimmie Spencer Lifetime Achievement Award speak to vision, dedication, and contribution to our industry. The Lars Fossberg Award celebrates accomplishment and the future leaders of our industry.”
Each recipient was nominated by industry peers, then scored and selected by the Board of Directors from an impressive field of talent. This year’s conference was attended by nearly 600 ski industry professionals.
About the Recipients:
Peter Alder – Jimmie Spencer Lifetime Achievement Award
Peter Alder was a long-time friend of Jimmie Spencer, who passed away in July 2018. Few people have touched so many corners of British Columbia and its ski industry the way Peter Alder has, and Jimmie would have been very pleased to have Peter receive this award.
As an entrepreneur, engineer, manager, and counselor to many, Peter has shaped the ski industry in this province in some capacity over the past 59 years, and has helped numerous people get started in careers and businesses related to the industry.
Peter’s deep interest in the mountains started in Switzerland skiing as a toddler in the 1930’s. Peter immigrated to British Columbia from Switzerland in 1951 as a mechanical engineer. He worked on B.C. Electric’s Kemano project before overseeing the installation of power lines through the Lillooet-Squamish area, bringing electricity from the northern part of the province to the Lower Mainland.
In 1960 he became the first professional manager of Red Mountain in Rossland. During his time at Red, Canada West Ski Areas Association was started – Red became one of the first founding members, and Peter was a Board Member of the very young organization.
In 1968 Peter was recruited by Silver Star, and spent six years as General Manager, and also became a shareholder. In 1974 he moved to Big White, as General Manager. During these years as a Board Member of CWSAA, Peter played a major role in helping to get the Association established, setting industry standards and developing education and training programs.
In the mid-70s Peter worked briefly for a lift manufacturer, before being recruited by the provincial government as the Senior Lift Inspector for the Ministry of Transportation. His work as an inspector caught the eye of Whistler Mountain’s owners, and Franz Wilhelmsen, who recruited Peter as the ski area’s new General Manager in 1978.
Peter initiated the first ski area master plan for Whistler Mountain, which included the north-side lifts out of the Village.
In July of 1979, Peter along with other Canada West Board members – Dave Woodman, Gary Kiefer and John Gow – were the selection committee for a new Executive Director of Canada West Ski Areas Association. They went way out on a limb, and hired a very unlikely candidate, with no ski area operations experience ……Jimmie Spencer. Thus began a working association between Jimmie and Peter which evolved into a close personal bond and lifelong friendship.
Over the next six years, Peter’s leadership at Whistler Mountain during the formative years of the Resort Municipality of Whistler was crucial in the development of a harmonious relationships with all the key entities. During that time he also made a major contribution to the formation and running of the Whistler Resort Association (WRA), through the turbulent recession of the early ‘80’s, and subsequently joined the WRA as General Manager from 1985-1987. Peter has also been involved and brought his wisdom to many organizations in Whistler, including as Chairman of the Whistler Advisory Planning Commission, and President of the Whistler Chamber of Commerce.
In the mid-90’s Peter partnered with Al and Nancy Raine in the building of the Cahilty Lodge at Sun Peaks. He became a Director of the Sun Peaks Resort Association and the Sun Peaks Improvement District. He was an Advisor to the Government of Alberta for the Kananaskis Resort Association and the Calgary Olympic Liaison Office. At the same time, he became a Senior Associate Consultant with Ecosign, and was involved in projects in 15 countries around the world.
Although officially retired from most of these roles, Peter continues to mentor many of Ecosign’s staff, along with a number of resort managers around the province. He has had a tremendous influence on many young people and institutions over the years. He remains deeply interested in the ski business and our local community, always keeping well up to date and informed on the changes that are constantly taking place in the mountain resort business. Peter is rightfully regarded as a founding father of the ski industry here in BC, and very few people have been as deeply involved, for so long and at so many levels, as Peter has.
Danny Cox – Jim Marshall Leadership Award
Danny was nominated for this award separately by a number of Ski Areas, colleagues and other businesses. His knowledge of, and commitment to, the ski industry as well as his amazing sense of humour were common themes of each nomination submitted for Danny.
Danny spent his early years on Toronto Island and started skiing at a young age with his father at a tiny hill in Toronto. He was a keen athlete – a champion sailor, tennis player and basketball player. He is also a pretty good skier! After high school, he attended the University of Waterloo where he graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering.
Danny spent the next few years skiing around Europe and North America. His first work at Whistler involved the installation and maintenance of the tows on the Whistler Glacier for the Toni Sailer Summer Camps. Danny also worked as a ski tech in a small shop during the winter.
Danny moved from Whistler to Mt. Norquay as Operations Manager, where we was able to utilize his engineering degree and unique management skills. A few years later he joined Cypress Mountain in a similar role
Danny was lured away from Cypress by Norm Duncan, who at the time worked for Marsh McLennan (Norm Duncan received the Jim Marshall Award in 2014). Norm and Danny signed up many of the ski resorts in Western Canada into their insurance program. The two would do an annual winter tour during which Norm would pitch the insurance products while Danny mixed it up with the operations and maintenance crews. Currently, Dan works within the MountainGuard risk management team as a consulting engineer.
Danny is a walking encyclopedia in regard to lift equipment. For many years, Danny has been a member of the Z-98 Committee and is a former Chairperson. He has also been a key CWSAA committee member, most notably with the Terrain Park group. Dan has a great sense of humour that he uses effectively from frontline employees to senior managers. He has the ability to find realistic solutions to the challenges faced by resorts of all sizes, with humour.
Throughout Dan’s career he has been supported by his wonderful wife, Lauren along with their two children.
Dan Wilson – Lars Fossberg Excellence Award
Dan Wilson was recently announced as the new General Manager for Vista Ridge All Season Park in Fort McMurray, Alberta. Unfortunately Dan was not able to attend the CWSAA Spring Conference and Awards Ceremony in Whistler, therefore with help from his team at Vista Ridge, Dan was presented the award last week at the ski hill.
Dan grew up riding the hills of Ontario. His passion for the ski industry drew him to Western Canada and a job at Cypress Mountain, as a lift supervisor, from 2009 to 2011. His desire to learn and make a difference in the industry inspired him to enroll in Selkirk College’s Ski Operations and Management Program. While at College he received three scholarships including the Whitewater Resort Scholarship for the highest GPA among second year students.
Dan came to Vista Ridge in the summer of 2012 and worked as a labourer with Leitner Poma on the installation of a new quad chair. Over the summer he also helped with building a new staff house and other summer maintenance jobs at the area. During that project, Kevin and the Vista team had their eye on Dan, and knew he would be a huge asset to their operation.
From his arrival at Vista Ridge it was apparent that Dan was a natural leader with an eye for detail. Under Dan’s leadership, Vista Ridge has developed a unique approach to terrain and a reputation as a leader in this field.
Over the summer months Dan has again proved his versatility. When Vista Ridge introduced a new summer Adventure Park, Dan agreed to manage it. He has brought his own innovations to the Vista Ridge park by introducing new elements. In April 2017, the Amazing Race Canada came to Vista Ridge’s Adventure Park and Dan was the coordinator of the event.
The fire of May 2016 was a very trying time for the entire community and there was a very real possibility of losing a ski season. This was not an option in this young man’s mind and he never had any doubt that Vista would be a fully operational ski area for the season. Dan was a leader in a team that preformed the mega task of completing over $1.25M in fire repairs.
In addition to his operations and management duties in both summer and winter, Dan’s versatility is demonstrated with his certification with both CSIA and CASI. Dan is also a qualified CSPS and supports the Summer Adventure Park First Aid.
Dan has clearly shown he is a person who can not only manage a ski area, but perform every task to ensure a safe operation. This type of person is a special asset to our industry and the type to carry on Lars Fossberg’s legacy.