By James Rose
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Dusan Grasic is the new program director for the Windermere Valley Ski Club (WVSC). Grasic is moving into his new role at the club level after spending close to twenty years with Alpine Canada.
“I’ve been looking forward to coming back to what I think of as my home club,” Grasic said. Grasic moved to Canada from Slovenia in 1995. He was the head coach of the B.C. Alpine Ski Team for seven years before moving up to the national level. Grasic believes Invermere and Panorama is the best place on earth to be a ski racer. “When my family first moved to Invermere in 1998, we immediately felt accepted and welcomed by Panorama and the Windermere Valley Ski Club. I’m looking forward to giving back to the community.”
Helmut Spiegl served as program director/head coach for WVSC since 2009. Over those twelve years, Spiegl was successful in building an affordable program and expanding WVSC’s registration numbers. The current registration is 72 kids. WVSC’s membership base is a mix between local Columbia Valley families and families from Alberta with second homes in the valley.
“I think Helmut did an unbelievable job,” Grasic said. “He’s an athletes coach, a friend and a father figure to the athletes he’s worked with. He put his soul into the club when things weren’t that easy, and always, he showed a passion for the sport of ski racing. Kids learned from him that passion.”’
WVSC has a long history in the Columbia Valley, producing top-notch ski racing talent. Alumni include World Cup ski cross medalist Courtney Hoffos, Olympians Christina Lustenburger, Ben Thomsen and national slalom champion Munroe Hunsicker.
“The club has grown in the last couple of years. It’s a community oriented club with programs people can afford.” As program director, Grasic’s mission is to make skiers for life. “And I’ll hopefully teach them to become racers too,” Grasic said, laughing. “Everybody is welcome is my mentality. I’ll give kids who want more extra, but I won’t be pushing anyone away.” Grasic, who holds degrees in engineering and coaching, also brings to the table experience in developing coaches.
To Grasic, skiing is one of the most exciting sports. “Whether you’re a beginner or advanced skier, you get a lot of adrenaline doing the sport.” It’s also a family sport.
“Kids and parents can do it together, you’re outside, and if you decide to race, you can see new places or be a skier for life and explore on your own. Racing is a great way to learn how to enjoy the sport. Racing gives the best foundation for young skiers learning the sport.”
Grasic is one of Canada’s most successful alpine ski racing coaches of all time. His career coaching on the world cup circuit began in 2002 when he was invited to join the national team as the head coach of the men’s tech team on the Europa Cup circuit. The following year Grasic became head coach of the men’s tech World Cup team. In alpine ski racing, the term “tech” refers to the giant slalom and slalom disciplines, whereas the “speed” disciplines are downhill and super-giant slalom.
Grasic stayed in this position for two years, coaching Thomas Grandi to his first two World Cup giant slalom wins. Those wins were also a first in Canadian history. Under Grasic’s leadership, his team became one of the strongest technical teams on the World Cup circuit.
In 2006, Grasic took on a new challenge becoming the program director for all of Alpine Canada. The Canadian ski team achieved the most podiums during those two years.
Despite this success, Grasic missed coaching. In 2008, he returned to coach the men’s Word Cup tech team. Between 2008 and 2011, the men’s tech team achieved seven world cup podiums. In 2009, Mike Janyk won the first technical medal for Canada at the World Ski Championships in Val d’Isère, France.
As a passionate skier for life himself, Grasic is excited to share his passion for ski racing with the young families that are a core part of the ski club. He invites current and future ski enthusiasts to get involved as racers, coaches, volunteers, or participants who want to improve their skiing knowledge.