Your Run – 40th Anniversary issue

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» I read with interest George Koch’s column, “Mountain forecast: firings with periods of litigation,” Fall 2011. While we appreciate the author’s attempt to be even-handed in reporting on several dismissals at Sunshine Village last season, some falsehoods persist.

There is a fallacy, widely disseminated via an anonymous organized social media campaign that the dismissals were the result of an incident in December in which the resort owner’s son was caught skiing in a closed area. Sunshine avoided commenting on these rumours for many months for legal reasons.

However, now that Sunshine’s legal case is in public record, anyone who reads the documents will find there were numerous issues with the dismissed staff that existed well before any incident involving the owner’s son. One of those involved the posting of a photograph on Facebook of a Christmas card signed by resort owner Ralph Scurfield, with the message “return to sender” and an avalanche bomb placed beside it. As jokes go, this one was highly irresponsible.

Another major misinformation that must be addressed is the question of safety at Sunshine Village. Yes, two of the dismissed employees had years of experience at the resort. However, their replacements also have years of experience at resorts around the world. As a result [of these hirings], some of our changes include:

• Sunshine Village is the first resort in Canada to implement the Field ID electronic monitoring system for avalanche control explosives;
• Sunshine Village has overhauled its Avalauncher explosives launching equipment and acquired a new Falcon GT Avalauncher;
• Sunshine Village has entered into a partnership with LifeSkill Risk & Rescue in Banff, which has resulted in dramatic improvements in estimated guest evacuation times from our lifts;
• Sunshine Village has implemented new training regimens for on-mountain staff to maximize the number of trained people available should an emergency arise;
• Sunshine Village has purchased two new snowcats this year, keeping our fleet one of the youngest, safest and most environmentally sound in the industry.

The Scurfield family, which owns Sunshine Village, has invested more than $60 million in infrastructure in recent years to improve the guest experience, and as a result Sunshine has the most modern lift system in Canada. Guest and employee safety remains our number-one priority. The anonymous bloggers who suggest otherwise appear to be motivated not by the facts, but by a desire to bring harm to the more than 700 employees of our resort.

The terminations last season were painful, but necessary to ensure Sunshine continues to be a leader in guest experience and safety. Rehashing old rumours only reopens wounds.

DOUG FIRBY, Director, Communications and Media,
Sunshine Village


» Glad you enjoyed the German spirit at the 2010 Winter Olympics (“Of dirndl and lederhosen,” First Tracks, December 2010). Munich would have been a world-class host for the 2018 Games. I also share your frustration about the low profile of Canada’s ski racing team. The work required is massive; establishing greater mindshare of Canadians is a difficult task. The challenge is that every sport in Canada takes a backseat to hockey. The media networks and advertisers promote stars like Crosby and Ovechkin to god-like status. How are talents like Biggs and Semple to compete? A financial battle is not really a fair one. However, from a grassroots perspective, maybe there needs to be a skill-testing question about our national ski teams before you’re allowed on the lift. Thanks for publishing Ski Canada.


Ski Canada Staff
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