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Bob Parsons legacy continues through generations


Several generations of ski racers have come and gone since Bob Parsons passed away in 1979, but the original Weasel Worker’s influence on ski racing and young people’s development is still being felt.

On Feb. 1 and 2 the 24 th annual Bob Parsons Memorial super G races will be held on Blackcomb’s Lower Cruiser. For skiers aged 13-16, the race is usually their introduction to speed on skis. But in keeping with the legacy established by Bob Parsons, it’s speed in a safe environment.

Bob Parsons was born and raised in Vancouver and in the late 1940s began skiing on the North Shore mountains with his brother Stan. The brothers competed in jumping, Nordic and downhill skiing on Hollyburn and Seymour mountains.

In the late 1960s the Parsons family became members of the Whistler Mountain Ski Club and the Parsons children became ski racers. Bob travelled across B.C. and Alberta with the racers, helping in course preparation and safety systems.

He was also one of the original organizers of the Vancouver Ski Team, which was formed in 1969 and in the late ’70s evolved into the B.C. Ski Team.

In the days before winch cats Bob Parsons formed and led the Weasel Workers, who prepared the Whistler downhill course – now the Dave Murray Downhill – by hand. Bob Parsons was chief of course for all the major CanAm, NorAm and World Cup downhills on Whistler until he passed away in 1979.

Bob had a special appreciation for downhill (super G didn’t exist then) and understood the growth it fostered in young people who confronted their fears – in this case speed – and overcame those fears. The Whistler Mountain Ski Club’s annual Back Bowl Downhill was the proving ground.

What most young racers didn’t realize was that while they were facing their fears they were doing so on a course that was immaculately prepared and safer than most of the other runs on the mountain, thanks to Bob Parsons.

In 1980 the Back Bowl downhill was renamed the Bob Parsons Memorial Downhill. The first edition was won by Bob’s son Jim Parsons. Since then some of Bob’s grandchildren have also raced in the event.

Now the oldest ski race in Whistler, the Parsons Memorial has alternated between a downhill and a super G over the years, as it has moved around to various locations on Whistler and Blackcomb.

Next weekend another group of young ski racers will test themselves in the Bob Parsons Memorial super G on Lower Cruiser. The race is sponsored by CIBC Wood Gundy and Bob Parsons’ family will be involved in the race organization, continuing the tradition and maintaining the values Bob Parsons believed in.