A Tour of Canadian Skiing Firsts
From glorious mountains to man-made ski hills and trails, Canada has embraced the customs and techniques of ski and snowboard culture from coast to coast.
For the millions who, year after year, devotedly follow World Cup Alpine competition, few are aware that what they are seeing or viewing is the result of the efforts, often superhuman, of a small army of volunteers who prepare the slopes for the Alpine events. One such volunteer, a legend in his own time, with a 30-year record of exemplary service to skiing, is Owen Carney.
His interest and experience as an official, stemming originally from supporting his son Michael’s racing career through to national competition, have continued as a progressive involvement from the local level, through to provincial, national, and, finally, the international level.
His undoubted leadership qualities and ability to motivate others led to one of his greatest accomplishments, the development of a unique team of committed, skilled volunteers known as the “Weasel Workers” who prepare the courses for Alpine events in Canada and abroad. Over the years, led by Owen Carney, the group has grown to over 400 dedicated volunteers. To quote Doug Forseth, Senior Vice-President, Operations, Intrawest Corporation, “Owen is not just the leader of this group, he is the inspiration, the heart and soul of the Weasel Workers.”
As Chief of Course at many Alpine venues since the early 1980s, he would probably count his involvement at the 1988 XV Olympic Winter Games at Calgary, Alberta, and the 2002 XlX Olympic Winter Games at Salt Lake City, USA., as his most significant contributions. Under his supervision as Chief of Course, the1988 Calgary Olympic downhill run is widely regarded as one of the most respected courses created to date.
His dedication to skiing has also involved him in, and been recognized by, a number of other organizations:
1. British Columbia Alpine Presidents Award, 1998
2. Director, Vancouver Ski Foundation
3. Technical Delegate, BC Alpine Ski Association (retired 2002)
4. Contributed to the bid process in Vancouver’s bid for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games
5. Volunteer of the Year, Alpine Canada Alpin and the British Columbia Alpine ski Association (1990)
6. Alpine Chair, Coast Alpine Event Club aka Whistler Weasel Workers.
Please Note: The ski information gathered here is compiled from a number of sources; it may not be inclusive of all accomplishments.
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Owen Carney at 2004 Canadian Ski Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. W.P. McElligott / 6086-18.
The Whistler Weasel Workers is a volunteer organization of alpine ski race workers that has been active in Whistler, BC Canada since the 1970s. The Whistler Weasel Workers are a non-profit society dedicated to the advancement of alpine ski racing in British Columbia and Canada. The Weasel Worker's major activity is the preparation and maintenance of ski race courses and the support and organization of ski racing competitions.
In part 6 of the official film of the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics we follow the progression of the men's Downhill Skiing event.