In 1972 the cross country ski committee of the Canadian Ski Association – Manitoba Division, a mostly alpine group, split ranks and formed its own organization. The Cross Country Ski Association of Manitoba or CCSAM became a separate sports body recognized and funded by the Manitoba Sports Federation (now called Sport Manitoba). Gordon Konatz was there from the beginning and he writes:
It was then that X/C skiing became of age in Manitoba. We wrote our own constitution, developed our own competition program, developed our own trails, raised our own money and celebrated in our own smoke free environment. It was a heady time.
In 1973 Gordon met Herman Smith Johansen (aka The Jackrabbit) and was so inspired by him that the decision was made to start a much needed youth program in Manitoba in Jackrabbit’s namesake.
Please read the entire article The story of the Jackrabbit Ski Program
In 1977 CCSAM hired its first paid coach – Jack Sasseville. The Winnipeg Foundation provided the funds and tasked CCSAM with providing a recreational service to Manitoba communities by establishing Jackrabbit programs throughout the province.
By 1980 cross country skiing had become a major winter sport in Manitoba with many active clubs, programs and trails throughout. Jackrabbit skiers graduated to the Provincial team, competed nationally and brought home medals!
Dave Wellard was an avid skier in 1960’s and he really promoted skiing in Manitoba. Dave was a teacher at St Johns Ravenscourt who started a great racing program. His graduates went on to race and instruct at the original Fresh Air Experience where Pat McCarthy and Jack Sasseville also worked, along with Ted Bigelow and Lyle Wilson (the store owner). This store was a major supporter of the provincial team program.
Ted Bigelow replaced Jack Sasseville as our provincial coach and Jack went on to become a National team coach.
Brent Bottomley has been a major figure in CCSAM history. In 1972 Brent was a ski instructor with Fresh Air Experience and was an original member of the CCSAM Board of Directors as the CANSI representative. Brent was Chairman of the CCSAM Board for 13 of the 15 years from 1995 to 2010. Brent also served on the Cross Country Canada Board of Directors.
Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame
Learn More About the History of Skiing in Manitoba
Ski Tracks – 100 Years of Skiing in Manitoba is a unique book with a large chapter on cross country skiing. Check for copies at your favourite book store.
Stories from Our Ski Community
- My Ski Beginnings – Submitted by Ed Innes – January 2002