Ski legends bedecked in vintage ski sweaters gathered together, beers in hand, on Friday evening for the third ever induction ceremony to the Fernie Ski Wall of Fame.
Looking around the room, it was easy to spot the faces of men and women who have made significant contributions to skiing culture in Fernie and in Canada. Even without their signature ski pants and goggles, the crowd was clearly stoked on skiing.
The Fernie Ski Wall of Fame was established in 2012 as a way to honour the contributions of various skiing legends to the development of skiing in Fernie. There are three categories of recognition: the pioneers, builders, and sports leaders.
Since the original induction ceremony in 2012, which honoured 18 individuals and organizations, there has been one other ceremony in 2014. The second induction welcomed a further five people or groups into the ranks.
Friday night’s event saw seven more awards presented to the pioneers, builders and sports leaders in our community. Lenka Hawrys and Matt Mosteller acted as emcees for the evening while various community members were selected to actually present the awards.
“The celebration of class of 2020 induction into the Fernie Ski Wall of Fame was a great success on Friday evening,” said Mike Delich, event organizer. “Over 130 attendees celebrated the contributions by the pioneers to Fernie snow sports, the legacies left in the community by the builders and the recognition and milestones of sports leaders in international ski and skier cross competitions.”
The first award of the night went to everyone’s favourite fur wearing musket man, the Griz. The town mascot was on hand to accept his award after a delightful speech by Blair Craig where he described the moment when he knew the Griz was real. Although the Griz was speechless with pleasure at receiving his pioneer award, that didn’t stop the crowd from giving him a standing ovation.
The next award was accepted by Zuzanna and Garyk Simpson on behalf of Ski Base. The iconic Second Avenue ski shop was recognized for the spot it holds in Fernie’s heritage, history and hearts.
The final award in the pioneer category went to Henry Georgi, a photographer and ski adventurer. The award was presented to Georgi by Nic Milligan and Ian Stokie, who spoke about Georgi’s love of adventure and his over 200 magazine cover shots, many of which helped to put Fernie on the map as a skiing destination. Georgi accepted his award and then the night moved on to the next category of trailblazers, the builders.
Shirley Timm took the stage and introduced one of the award winners.
“For all individuals and citizens, accessibility to the outdoors and the activities that we enjoy are so often taken for granted,” Timm said. “Accessibility has not always been easy for individuals with impairments or challenges. A young lady in Fernie wanted to help all individuals with disabilities enjoy the sport of skiing, an activity that so many enjoy and so Grace Brulotte’s story was started.”
The Fernie Adaptive Ski Program, represented at the event by Grace Brulotte, Scott Courtemanche and Andy Cohen, was founded eight years ago as a way to allow individuals with challenges or disabilities to enjoy the freedom and joy of skiing. On Friday night, the organization was honoured with a spot on the wall of fame.
The other winner in the builders category was Chris Slubicki, a ski coach and philanthropist who helped to build the local ski club from the ground up. Slubicki also helped to establish the Emily Brydon Legacy Foundation, which has raised about $800,000 to date.
After a heartwarming and personal speech by Slubicki, it was time for the last awards category of the evening.
Two women were recognized as sports leaders, a category that exists for athletes who have had personal bests, international podiums and accomplishments after their sporting career. Julia Delich O’Brien and Danielle Sundquist were both recognized for their significant skiing accomplishments.
Delich O’Brien is an alumni of the Canadian ski team and the University of Denver ski team. She is a four time All-American and was the captain of NCAA championship teams in the United States. She’s also a Fernie local and the daughter of Mike Delich, current wall of fame inductee and the organizer of Friday night’s event.
Sundquist is also an alumni of the Canadian ski team as well as a member of the Canadian ski cross team. Sundquist represented Canada in the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver as well as in a variety of international ski cross competitions.
After recognizing and celebrating the amazing ski legends that have come out of Fernie, the emcees took the time to give a shout out to the younger generation of up and coming skiers. Athletes like Seth Amundsen, Andrea Byrne, Dylan Siggers and Sam Goodison were given a resounding round of applause for their current contributions to the sport.
Before ending the ceremony, emcees let the crowd know that the Ski Wall of Fame will have a permanent location later this spring. The photographs and biographies of all of the recognized groups and individuals will be installed at the Slopeside cafe at Fernie Alpine Resort.
Reflecting on the induction ceremony, Delich was pleased with the outcome of the night, noting that it helped to uphold Fernie Skiing Heritage’s goals.
“The vision of Fernie Skiing Heritage is to establish and to maintain an enduring legacy of the rich cultural history of snow sports and mountain life,” he said. “Everyone enjoyed Friday evening’s community spirit.”