Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee nominee: Al Fisher
The following is the text of an application made by Kathy Moore for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Award. The nomination was endorsed by Senator Nancy Greene last year. Says Moore, “In her youth, Al coached and inspired her. Unfortunately Al did not win. I would like to submit his name to Rossland City Council for consideration of a Diamond Jubilee award this year.”
ROLE: Al Fisher has been the driving force behind building and strengthening the youth cross-country skiing program in Rossland. He has helped Black Jack Ski Cross Country Club become a well-respected ski racing facility throughout Canada. The program started after the 2006 Olympics in Torino, Italy. Al and two friends, Bob Disbrow and Kim Kawaguchi were so impressed with our Canadian athletes’ performances and popularity among other athletes and European fans that they agreed the athletes were terrific ambassadors for our country and more must be produced. This insight started Al on an incredible journey. He has worked tirelessly to fund-raise for the youth skiing program- both recreational and racing divisions. Because of his efforts major donations have been made to the club for facilities upgrades. He helped design and build the trail system, and raised funds to construct the trails. He not only volunteered to manage the work projects but spent countless hours volunteering on the trails doing hard, physical labor. Without his efforts of recruitment, we would never have been able to attract a high powered coach, Dave Wood, from the national team to work with our youngsters nor would we ever have had a high caliber skier development program that starts when skiers are preschool age and continues through secondary school. Al was instrumental in designing a program that trains champions. His leadership role in the program and on the executive board has been unparalleled. The cross country ski program is now included in the prestigious High School Sport Academy so promising young athletes can get top caliber training while they continue their secondary school education.
IMPACT: Al has made a significant impact on the community. Rossland’s cross country ski club has grown dramatically as more families with young children get involved in the youth programs he has established and nurtured. Healthy living and a love of the outdoors, dedication to sport, and a strong competitive spirit have been instilled in our local youth thanks to Al’s efforts to promote the sport and expand participation. He is intent on not only grooming future Olympians from an early age but also encouraging people of all ages to get out, get involved, volunteer and participate in a very healthy activity. His training regimes have been used by youth and elite athletes for decades. He has coached track and field as well at all levels.
REACH: Al’s efforts have benefited the whole community and beyond. Through his work developing the skier development program at Rossland’s ski club he has brought young people into the program from the Kootenay region, not just our community. The program participants learn the value of self-discipline, good sportsmanship, camaraderie, healthy eating and training routines. They learn the importance of working hard to achieve goals and being a contributing member of a team and society. Al is a key leader in the program and he leads by example. The youngsters are in awe of him. Not to mention the adults too; he is a role model for all ages. In addition, through his efforts to improve the facilities of this non-profit club, he has brought in many more skiers to Rossland as day visitors and for races. This is good for local business as more visitors spend their dollars in our town. Without Al, Rossland would not have been able to host the large competitions that are now regularly held at Black Jack. High level competitions also serve to inspire our youngsters, many of whom are starting to show real success at the local, provincial and national level. Al’s goal is to not only create future Olympians from our little rural town but to instill the love of skiing in future generations. He teaches young people a life long activity that develops healthy bodies and disciplined minds.
ENGAGEMENT: Al is a master of engaging others in collective efforts. He leveraged his contacts in the business world to support the program in Rossland from as far away as Vancouver and as close as the Columbia Basin Trust, Teck Trail Operations and the Nelson and District Credit Union, to name a few. These funding partnerships have enabled us to host a program in our small rural community that is the envy of many much larger cities. Al was able to recruit active parents and other skiers to train to become instructors and officials to ensure the programs and competitions will continue long after he retires from active participation. After all, he turned 82 years old this year; he might want to slow down someday! Al was instrumental in bringing larger competitions to Rossland through his contacts in the ski world. As a former coach and ski racer in his younger days, he is well known in cross country circles and he used his influence to great advantage. He always takes a collaborative approach with potential funding partners, making sure they get satisfaction and recognition from supporting his endeavors too.
CHALLENGES: Al is unstoppable. He is 82 years young but still has overcome some serious accidents (broken pelvis at 77, broken back at 80 just to name the most recent). But he continues to ski and bike and inspire others to be as healthy and active as they can. Despite these serious accidents that might have sidelined a lesser man, Al was back on his skis as soon as he could get out of his brace, with or without his physician’s blessing. Rossland is a small, rural community in Southern BC. It’s not easy to get here, and many people have never heard of us, Al has put our small community on the map as a cross country skiing destination and built our skier development program into something grand. Coach Dave Wood considers Rossland to be the best training area in Canada. It’s a small mountain town with running and biking trails right out the back door; it has a cross country ski centre five minutes from town. Rossland gets early snow and has a temperate climate. Thanks to the efforts of Al, and other volunteers, it’s now capable of hosting international events even though it’s a small, out of the way location.
INSPIRATION: Al has been working with others for decades coaching alpine and cross country ski racing as well as track and field. He’ll give a free ski lesson or valuable tips to anyone on the trails who wants to learn and is willing to listen. At 82 he is still riding his road bike like a fiend for long distances and skiing daily. Up until very recently he was still racing. He is an inspiration by the joyful way he lives his life and through sheer hard work, he maintains his excellent physical shape. He is an inspiration in that he donates so much of his time and his own money to ensure that future generations of Canadians will live happy and healthy lives. He has touched the lives of countless young people who have gone through the skier development program at Black Jack Cross Country club in Rossland and continues to inspire all who know him.
For more information about Al please read this article.