Ski legend passes

The man credited with leading the fledgling Western Canadian Ski Industry out of the wilderness and into the international limelight has died.

Jimmy Spencer passed in Vernon on July 16 at 92 years old. He is survived by his wife, Andy, and sons, Iain and David.

"Remarkable, storied, legendary, monumental, pillar, leadership, inspiration, epic, amazing mentor are all descriptors that have quickly circulated to articulate one of our great industry leaders," said Andre Quenneville chairperson of the Canada West Ski Area's Association (CWSAA) board of directors.

Spencer's Canada West story is well known. 

The ski industry was in its infancy. Creative inspiration was a polite way to say there was little in the way of operational standards and best practices. 

As the fledgling CWSAA organization looked for a new leader in the summer of 1979, a British gentleman in a tweed suit appeared in the interview. 

Most thought he was at the wrong appointment. In the end, what may have seemed like an odd selection, turned into a lucky strike of genius, as the retired British Army colonel took control of the western Canadian ski industry.

"Likely his greatest legacy, however, will be the generation of leadership and co-operative culture he expected and created between competitors to establish The Canada West Way.  It is a way to compete, at times ferociously, but also develop inclusiveness and respect between ski areas, and collective best practices to elevate the entire industry," added Quenneville. 

In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations be forwarded in Jimmy’s name to the following organizations: the Vernon Jubilee Hospital Foundation and the CWSAA Small Area Fund.

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