Nigel Cooper left some big ski boots to fill when he departed as the Whistler Mountain Ski Club’s program director this spring after seven successful years, but if anyone can fill them it’s Currie Chapman.
Last week the board of directors for the WMSC announced that Chapman had won the position, after a three-month search for Cooper’s replacement. Chapman’s hire also comes as the club made changes to its organizational structure after hiring a consultant to look at ways the club could be improved.
Chapman’s role as program director now means that he will have responsibility for all day-to-day operations of the WMSC, reporting directly to club president Jim McGovern.
Chapman brings over 35 years of racing, coaching and administrative experience to the WMSC, starting with five years as a member of the national ski team.
His experience behind the scenes goes back to 1978 when he was named head coach for the Canadian Women’s Alpine Ski Program. He held that post for a decade, working with skiers to earn 11 World Cup wins, two world championship medals and an Olympic medal. In 1986 Champman won Coach of the Year honours from the Canadian government, and he followed up in 1988 with a book on coaching philosophy and motivating elite athletes.
Other roles include technical delegate to the International Ski Federation, and positions on various boards and committees related to sports. He has been involved in six Olympics to date in various capacities.
He also has a background in media, marketing and business, and brings a mix of alpine racing experience and management skills to the WMSC. He is married with two children, and will be moving to Whistler with his family from Sidney B.C. to take up the position on Aug. 1.
The next few years are important for the club, which will have a role to play supporting the Canadian Alpine Ski Team and Canadian Para-Alpine Ski Team during the 2010 Winter Games.
“I think what I can bring to the club is experience in international skiing, but also down to the lower levels as well,” he said. “The club is heading into an Olympic year, and I think I have somewhat of a known name in Canadian ski racing…that can help the club greet the world as it comes. The club should have a place in this whole thing — I know sometimes clubs get pushed aside, and I don’t want to be pushed aside.”
After the Games the club has an opportunity to benefit from legacies that include new equipment, exposure to top athletes and sports experts, and possibly even a dedicated training run on Whistler Mountain. There is also potential to launch an academy program in the athletes’ village (Cheakamus Crossing) where skiers could come to Whistler from around the world to train with the club.
Chapman is not up to speed with all the potential Olympic legacies, but says he has seen the Games boost clubs in other towns.
“We’ve got a prime location inside the Olympic venue, within walking distance to the finish line of the Olympic skiing events,” said Chapman. “It will be interesting to see where we can be involved, whether it’s working exclusively with the Canadian team or some of the Olympic sponsors.
“It’s a great opportunity, and this club has a lot of great people driving it — great skiers, alumni with the national team…Steve Podborksi is on the board. This is a group that will be taken seriously when it’s time for the Games.”