Dec 1, 2007 | Marmot, Winter 2007

Peter Gibson In Profile…

Peter Gibson grew up a hockey player in Cranbrook, BC.

When his family was considering a move to the Comox Valley in 1960, where his father, a doctor, was offered a job as the Director of the Upper Island Health Unit, the wiry centre discovered to his chagrin that there was no hockey program.

Then, a prophetic event happened: he and his mother were looking at a house on a pre-move trip. “I went into the bedroom and (the son) had a trophy case in his bedroom. He had the Wells Gray Trophy he won at Forbidden Plateau,” Gibson related. “I got quite excited about skiing,” he said. “I had an ambition to get that trophy. Four years later it was back up on that shelf. And it stayed on that shelf for three years.”

Decades later, as Gibson sits by a snow-brushed window talking about his early days of skiing and his downhill and slalom racing reign, his passion is undiminished.

Gibson is the President of Mount Washington Alpine Resort, having worked his way through a variety of jobs, from trail crew before the mountain opened in December 1979 to Director of Skiing in 1979, Guest Services Manager in 1989, Resort Services Director in 1994, General Manager in 1999 and his present title since 2001. He also spent four off-seasons teaching in Tasmania. But he really began his career with the late Herb Bradley’s Fanny Dunkers.

Gibson was president of the club when he was 15 and 16 years old, and ran meetings at the Courtenay Recreational Association. “It was a great leadership program,” he says. “Being around Herb Bradley, he was a pretty big inspiration to all of us that he taught.”

“As a boy he took to skiing like a duck to water,” Bradley wrote about Gibson in 1990. “Peter is an extremely hard worker and dedicated to the sport of skiing. It is his life.”

Last year he challenged his staff to see who would get out on the runs the most often. Officially, he finished second with 119. Unofficially, he says since he skied in other places for two more days, he won. It’s the thrill factor that drives him to strap on the shape skis, even though he also must wear braces on both knees now.

“It’s a combination of fresh air, the views, the thrill of going fast – also the technical part of it,” he says. “It’s like driving a race car on country roads. It’s the same thing.”

He keeps his teaching certificate current (Canadian Ski Coaches Federation Level 4 teaching and Level 3 skiing, and Professional Ski Instructors of America Level 3), even though the only “students” he has right now are his daughter Mallory, 13, and son Connor, 11.

Teaching methods have changed since he first took his certification course with Mike and Ann Hadney when he was 18. “I feel I’m still getting better,” he says. “The learning never ends.”

Gibson’s passion for the sport extends beyond the boundaries of Mount Washington Resort. He chairs the B.C. and Yukon zone of the Canada West Ski Areas Association, overseeing 47 resorts. He would like to chair the entire organization, after a couple of terms in this position. Gibson also sits on three boards: Vancouver Island Marmot Recovery Foundation, Comox Valley Community Foundation and the Mount Washington Board of Directors.

Letters of recommendation from his peers speak to the respect that Gibson receives for his efforts. Jimmie Spencer, President and CEO of the Canada West Ski Areas Association, says “I have always found him extremely pleasant and co-operative to deal with.” “Peter has impressed me in a number of ways,” writes John Gow, who was President of Silver Star Mountain Resort in 1990.

“He demonstrates a very sound overall knowledge of our industry, as well as a clear understanding of specific resort operations. He has shown a real commitment to Mount Washington’s growth and development as a first-class regional destination ski resort.”

Not bad for a man born in Malaysia who never saw snow until he was five years old.

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