After 30 years of tireless devotion to Canadian skiing, Max Gartner announced on Wednesday his resignation from his Alpine Canada CEO post.
The 54-year Gartner, whose term was due to expire soon after the Sochi Olympics next February, will continue in this role until a successor is named.
“I believe now is the right time for a new leader, one with the energy and vision to shape the future of Alpine Canada’s business operations, to lead our teams into a very important year,” Gartner said.
While citing no reasons for his departure, he lamented about funding issues that plagued Canadian winter sports, as well an unprecedented streak of injuries and deaths.
From his start as an assistant skiing coach for this alpine and ski cross organization in 1982, he rose through the organization, and was promoted to this lead position in the fall of 2010, just months after Canada’s stellar performance in the Vancouver 2010 Olympics.
As he progressed through the coaching ranks into the executive level, he was instrumental in steering Canada’s alpine program to greater success in recent years. John Kucera (2009) and Erik Guay (2011) won the International Skiing Federation (FIS) world cup downhill titles, while Ashleigh McIvor landed atop the Vancouver Games podium with her electrifying win the inaugural Olympic ski cross race.
Yet, numerous injuries and two deaths are reminders of safety’s importance. In the run-up to the Vancouver Olympics, several medal hopefuls, including Kucera, succumbed to season-ending injuries – missing the chance to win medals for their home country. Then, ski halfpipe pioneer Sarah Burke died in January 2011 from a freak accident during halfpipe training in the United States.
Gartner played a pivotal role in conducting two Alpine Summits in 2011 and 2012, where management, coaches, and athletes convened to discuss how alpine and ski cross dangers could be mitigated. This progress was only somewhat tempered by the passing of countryman Nic Zoricic who died in March 2011 during a world cup ski cross event where he crashed just off the course while nearing the finish line. “It was certainly the hardest part during my tenure,” said Gartner.
Still, this second travesty did not deter Gartner and his team from recommending several safety measures to the FIS organization – some of which have been adopted just in time for the Sochi Olympics. Currently, there are no plans to conduct anohter summit this year.
Yet, Gartner has no regrets. “”Coaching is where my heart lies, this is why I got into sport, primarily as a coach, that is where my love is,” he said. “So I wouldn’t rule it out to be back coaching at some level.”