Hall of Famer
Joseph (Joe) Fitzgerald is one of the most influential and highly respected individuals in freestyle worldwide. His list of accomplishments and his contribution to the sport of freestyle skiing is immeasurable.
Joe was born in Calgary, February 4, 1955. His neighbours and childhood friends were the Bowie family who operated the Happy Valley ski area on the outskirts of Calgary. This is where Joe made his first turns, igniting the torch that would guide his life’s pursuit for the decades to follow.
Joe took an interest in competitive Freestyle skiing and was one of the original members of the Canadian Freestyle Ski Association formed by Daryl Bowie and John Johnston in the 1970s. He became involved with a freestyle committee formed within the Canadian Ski Association (CSA).
At 23, Joe pursued a university education, studying biomechanics and exercise physiology. In 1980 he graduated from the University of Calgary with a Bachelor of Physical Education. During this time, Joe assisted in organizing freestyle competitions, began coaching and authored the book “Anatomy of the Back Flip” which became instrumental in educating coaches for aerials.
After graduation, Joe was hired as the CSA’s first ever Freestyle Technical Director, a posting that brought him to Ottawa. It is during this time that he developed certification programs for coaches and officials and was responsible for organizing the FIS World Cup events in Canada. From there, Joe would come to be involved in nearly every major milestone in the advancement of freestyle skiing in Canada and around the world.
In 1984, Joe led Canada’s first Canadian national freestyle team. In 1986, he served as a Technical Delegate at the premier FIS Freestyle World Championship in Tignes, France. Shortly after, he began a 5 year tenure as director of Alberta freestyle skiing. In 1988, Joe was appointed Chief of Competition for the Calgary Olympics and for the next 12 years, Joe organized FIS Freestyle World Cups and continued to accept TD assignments in Europe and North America including the 1994 Olympic Winter Games in Lillehammer.
In 2000, Joe moved to Switzerland to take on a key role with the International Ski Federation. He would embark on a 20 year journey that would see him become a central figure in the period of great growth in freestyle around the world. During his time as freestyle director, the events of ski cross, halfpipe, slopestyle and big air were added to FIS World Cup and the Olympic Winter Games.
Following Joe’s departure from the FIS in 2020, his involvement in freestyle continued. He most recently was retained as the “International Freestyle Expert” by the Organizing Committee at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games.
While the core freestyle ski events of moguls and aerials will be the ones most dear to his heart, wherever there is a skier getting up in the air for a little hot-dogging, know that Joe’s influence is present and that his legacy will live on long into Freestyle’s future.
Please Note: The ski information gathered here is compiled from a number of sources; it may not be inclusive of all accomplishments. Copyright © 2022, Canadian Ski Museum & Hall of Fame. All Rights Reserved.