So how does one reach the pinnacle of coaching cross-country skiing in Canada?
Well, for Dave Wood of Prince George, it all began in the mid-1970s when racing for the Hickory Wing Ski Club. Wood’s career path to coaching the sport he loves was influenced by Doug Gudwer, the 1999 Prince George Sports Hall of Fame inductee, who raced to 22 medal-winning performances at the Canadian Cross-Country Ski Championships.
Wood’s appreciation for the many demands required of a Nordic skier was enhanced through his friendship with Gudwer. Progressing from athlete/skier and general club volunteer at the Hickory Wing Ski Club, Wood became the B.C. team head coach for cross-country skiing from 1988 to 1990.
Wood then moved to a critical technical role as head wax technician for Canada’s national cross-country ski team. In 1994, he returned home to Prince George to open the Provincial Training Centre at the Otway Nordic Centre. Guiding Canada’s best young racers took Wood to Canmore, Alberta, where he was national team junior coach.
In 1998, Wood took over a struggling national ski team. Under his guidance as head coach and team leader, he rebuilt a program in disarray to some of its greatest successes. He coached Beckie Scott to gold in the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics in 2002 and Chandra Crawford to a gold medal at the Turin Olympics in 2006. Wood guided the Canadian national men’s ski team to its best ever Olympic performances at the Vancouver-hosted Olympic Games in 2010.
From his early days of skiing the Prince George nordic trails, Dave Wood rose to become a world-class coach and deserving inductee into the Prince George Sports Hall of Fame.
The Greek god Atlas was forced to carry the world on his shoulders as punishment for his war on Zeus. Gibby Chasse needed no coercion for him to prove he was the strongest man in the land. He took that project entirely upon himself when he became a competitive powerlifter.
Having grown up in Prince George an all-star success in hockey, baseball and fastball, Chasse always set lofty athletic goals for himself and his approach to weightlifting was no different. He raised the bar high and accomplished great feats of strength in a competitive career that began in 2000 in Chilliwack, where he won his first bench press event. Within two years he was setting provincial records, winning best lifter awards, and developing muscles and a lifting technique capable of superhuman achievements.
First-place results in the bench press and a fourth-place finish in powerlifting at the Canadian Powerlifting Union national championship in Winnipeg in 2003 qualified him for the world championships in the Czech Republic.
In 2005, in the midst of winning his fifth of six Canadian Powerlifting Union B.C. Open championships, he lifted an unheard of 534.6 pounds to establish a Canadian record he would hold for eight months, a provincial mark that still stands. His combined total in the squat, dead lift and bench press amounted to a personal record 1,612 pounds. He defended his B.C. title the following year and was voted best overall lifter at the provincial championships.
There was more glory to come and more gold around his neck at the 2009 Global Powerlifting Counsel national championship in Calgary, where Chasse pushed 500 pounds (twice what he weighed at the time) to set a GPC national bench press record. His powerlifting total of 1,750 pounds was a new high for Chasse.
Chasse was also a team player at the height of his prowess as a young athlete and from 1978 to 1988 he represented Prince George on the city’s top traveling hockey teams in prestigious events like the Mac’s Midget Tournament. He made the grade in junior hockey with the Prince George Spruce Kings from 1986 to 1988 and was chosen a Pacific Coast Junior Hockey League all-star his final season.
Chasse also played lacrosse and football and excelled on the ball field, first in baseball at the Babe Ruth level, from 1981 to 1986, then in fastball in the senior men’s league.
As a trainer, he continues to bring out the best in young players involved in hockey, baseball, football, speed skating and soccer.
Chasse has now muscled his way into the Prince George Sports Hall of Fame in the athlete category. He joins long-time lifting partner Tony Tomra, who was inducted in 2010.
His own career as a lacrosse player lasted just eight years. But, for more than 25, Glen “Moose” Scott has been working tirelessly so that others can take up a stick and enjoy Canada’s national summer sport.
Scott has contributed to the betterment of lacrosse on local, provincial and national levels. He is most well-known as a founding member of the Prince George Senior Lacrosse Association, which is now into its 24th season.
The seed for the PGSLA was planted when Scott was contacted by the B.C. Lacrosse Association and was asked if he could facilitate the formation of a Prince George senior team that could play against the Vernon Tigers, who were intent on competing for a senior B championship. To be eligible, the Tigers needed to have four games under their belts. With the help of Scott and others, a Prince George team was formed and a four-game series was played.
The series between Vernon and Prince George led to a meeting in 1990, during which discussions were held about starting a local league. There was enough interest to form two teams and they played in the inaugural PGSLA season in 1991. Scott was league commissioner and has held the post ever since.
The original PGSLA expanded to three teams and then to four. Over the years, it has been home to thousands of recreational players and has helped many of them advance to higher levels, including the National Lacrosse League. The PGSLA is a senior C league and, under Scott’s guidance, is one of the most respected in the province. He also helped build senior C lacrosse in other cities throughout B.C. and was one of the founders of the B.C. senior C championship tournament.
Another of Scott’s major contributions to lacrosse is the Alcan Cup Canadian Senior Invitational Lacrosse Championship. Scott and Ron Edgar are co-founders of the event, first held in Prince George in 1999. It travels around the province and is now called the Treasure Cove Casino Canadian Senior Invitational Lacrosse Championship.
Most recently, Scott helped form the Cariboo Central Interior Intermediate Lacrosse League, which will begin play this spring and will cater to 17- and 18-year-olds. The league – with Scott as commissioner – will fill the gap between minor lacrosse and senior lacrosse and will have teams in Prince George, Mackenzie and Quesnel.
Scott, with the help of Edgar and others, has also brought professional lacrosse to Prince George on three occasions – 2001, 2003 and 2004. The game in 2001 was a pre-season contest between the expansion Vancouver Ravens and Calgary Roughnecks and was the first-ever NLL game played on B.C. soil. The Ravens and Roughnecks clashed again in Prince George in 2003. And, in 2004, the Toronto Rock came to town to face the Ravens.
Scott served on the BCLA executive for eight years. He was nominated by the organization for a Sport BC Community Sport Hero Award and was presented with the award in 2011.
The man known as the “Moose” has cast a large shadow over all things lacrosse. The Prince George Sports Hall of Fame is proud to make room for him in the builder and administrator category.
As a kid, Jason LaBarbera stopped pucks in the Prince George Minor Hockey Association. His developmental years and his unyielding commitment to the game have resulted in a long and award-winning career as a professional goaltender.
LaBarbera was born in Burnaby but moved with his family to Prince George at an early age. He was a standout player in the local rep system and, as he progressed, drew the attention of Western Hockey League scouts. LaBarbera made his WHL debut with the Tri-City Americans in 1996-97, but, after just two games with Tri-City, was acquired by the Portland Winter Hawks. He spent four seasons with the Hawks and had his best year in 1997-98 when he posted an 18-4 record. That summer, he was drafted by the National Hockey League’s New York Rangers in the third round, 66th overall.
LaBarbera began his pro career in 2000-01 with the East Coast Hockey League’s Charlotte Checkers, an affiliate club of the Rangers. With the Checkers, he went 18-10-7. That same season, he was called up for four games with the American Hockey League’s Hartford Wolf Pack and also appeared in a single game for the Rangers.
LaBarbera split the next season, 2001-02, between the Checkers and Wolf Pack and established himself as the Wolf Pack’s starter in 2002-03. Then, in 2003-04, he took his game to dizzying heights and was named top goaltender and most valuable player in the AHL. That year, he had a 34-9-9 record, a goals-against average of 1.59, a save percentage of .936 and 13 shutouts. He received the Aldege (Baz) Bastien Memorial Award as top goaltender and the Les Cunningham Award as league MVP. The legendary Johnny Bower also has his name on the Cunningham trophy (1955-56 to 1957-58). The 2003-04 campaign also saw LaBarbera get his first NHL win with the Rangers.
LaBarbera continued his stellar play in 2004-05 and teamed with Wolf Pack goaltending partner Steve Valiquette to win the Harry “Hap” Holmes Memorial Trophy for lowest goals-against average in the league. LaBarbera himself went 31-16-2 and had a miniscule goals-against average of 1.84. After a trade to the Los Angeles Kings organization in the 2005 off-season, LaBarbera won the Bastien and Holmes awards again in 2006-07 as a member of the Manchester Monarchs.
At the NHL level, LaBarbera got his first real opportunity with the Kings in 2005-06 when he played in 29 games and posted an 11-9-2 record with a goals-against average of 2.89 and a save percentage of .900. He stopped shots for both the Kings and Monarchs for a total of four seasons. His longest stay with the Kings was in 2007-08 when he went 17-23-2 in 45 games.
Since then, LaBarbera has played for the Vancouver Canucks (2008-09), Phoenix Coyotes (2009-10 to 2012-13) and Edmonton Oilers (2013-14). The Oilers traded him to the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks and he is now suiting up for Chicago’s AHL team, the Rockford IceHogs. Prior to this season, LaBarbera ranked seventh in AHL history with 28 shutouts.
As a goaltender, LaBarbera has been a wall. Now, the Prince George Sports Hall of Fame is thrilled to open its doors to him in the professional athlete category.
John Pettersen was always known as Prince George's Mr. Cross-Country, pioneering the sport of cross-country skiing not only in Prince George, but in B.C. and Canada.
It's quite the accomplishment considering Pettersen was born in Norway, immigrated to Canada in 1953, before settling in Prince George in 1957.
Pettersen and his family quickly adopted their new community, and beginning in the early 1960s, became very active in Nordic skiing. And he wasn't involved in just one aspect of the sport, he was involved in every aspect at the club, provincial and national level for almost 30 years, thanks to his colourful character and generosity.
Pettersen was instrumental in building the first ski lodge and trails at Tabor Mountain. He worked tirelessly at the club level, at meetings and at maintaining the trails at Tabor. Under the club name of Hickory Wing Ski Club, he served as president for three years. He became a race official too, scoring the highest mark in the province on his first officiating exam in 1962, and chaired the Western Canadian Nordic Championships in Prince George the same year.
As well, Pettersen served as manager/coach at the 1963 Canadian Junior Ski Championships in Banff, where he witnessed his son, Rolf, win the first national title for Prince George.
Pettersen extended his efforts to biathlon as well. In 1964, he built the first biathlon shooting range outside of an armed forces base in Canada. The new range was the site of the 1964 Western Canadian championships. The U.S. team competed in Prince George when Pettersen and his committee hosted the North American Cross-Country and Biathlon championships in 1965 at Tabor. He served as manager for the Western Division team at the 1965 Canadian Junior Ski Championships in Kimberley and took on the role of event chair at the 1965 Canadian championships in Prince George.
In 1967, Pettersen served as co-Chief of Race and event chair for the Centennial Cross-Country Ski Championships in Prince George. The event was truly international, as top teams from Canada, the U.S., Norway, Sweden and Finland competed. He was the Chief of Race at the 1969 Western Canadian championships at Tabor and the 1970 Canadian Nordic Ski Championships.
In 1969, Pettersen was one of four committee members to submit a proposal to the city for 100 Steps Ski Hill and the Otway Nordic Centre. The dream finally became reality in 1983. He was an active member at Otway too, which has become one of the best Nordic ski centres in Canada.
Through it all, Pettersen and his wife Randi adopted the athletes of the Prince George cross-country ski team into their home and every weekend travelled to competitions. He was the chair of B.C. Cross Country for a 10-year span and was the national vice-chair for Cross Country Canada between 1967 and 1975. In 1976, Pettersen served as manager/coach for Team B.C. at the Canada Winter Games in Pincher Creek, Alta., where his B.C. and Prince George athletes won gold medals.
Pettersen was born in Sarpborg, Norway, on Aug. 26, 1915, and his upbringing included soccer, Greco-roman wrestling and cross-country skiing. He landed at Pier 21 in Halifax on April 4, 1953, and moved to Prince George in 1957. He died in July of 2001.
Pettersen’s generosity and passion for cross-country skiing paved the trail for generations to come. He is a deserving inductee as a coach and builder into the Prince George Sports Hall of Fame.
As a player, builder and coach, Pat Harris has been a driving force behind wheelchair basketball in British Columbia for more than 35 years. He has also worked tirelessly to change attitudes toward disability and has helped make northern B.C. communities more accessible for people with mobility challenges.
Harris grew up in Chase and it was there, in 1966, that a riverbank collapsed on his back while he was playing. He was just 10 years old. He spent his 11th birthday in hospital and his 12th in rehabilitation, where he was taught the skills he would need to live in a world that was anything but wheelchair-friendly. When Harris reached high school, P.E. teacher Doug Everett introduced him to wheelchair sports and trained him in wheelchair racing. Everett changed Harris’s life.
After high school, Harris moved to Vancouver and discovered the B.C. Paraplegic Association. The time he spent at the BCPA was eye-opening because he met councillors and peers who, like himself, were holding down jobs, playing sports and living their lives despite the challenges they faced. He also realized, however, that others were not active and were isolated because they had no support networks or were financially challenged.
Harris played for the Vancouver Cable Cars wheelchair basketball team from 1971 to 1974 and was a member of a Canadian championship team. He was also a two-time Paralympian in athletics.
When Harris and his wife, Nancy, moved to Prince George in 1980, he found there were no wheelchair sports in the region and that general accessibility for people in wheelchairs was limited. A mission crystalized in his mind and he started building the foundations for wheelchair sports and accessibility infrastructure.
In the mid-1980s, Harris founded the Prince George Titans wheelchair basketball program, which is still going strong today. His involvement as a player and/or coach with the Titans stretches almost 30 years. During that time, he has organized countless wheelchair basketball demonstrations in Prince George and has travelled to numerous northern communities to encourage people with disabilities to stay physically active and to get involved in wheelchair sports. As a coach, he has played a significant role in helping many wheelchair basketball players advance to provincial, national and international levels of competition. Harris also coached at several editions of the B.C. Winter Games, as well as the 2003 and 2007 Canada Winter Games. For the 2015 Canada Winter Games in Prince George, he is sport chair for wheelchair basketball.
As a rehabilitation consultant and information services manager for Spinal Cord Injury B.C., Harris has shown a passion for enhancing the quality of life for people with disabilities. He was instrumental in the formation of Accessibility Advisory Committees in Prince George, Quesnel and Fort St. John. He also spearheaded the Measuring Up the North Project, a partnership between Spinal Cord Injury B.C. and more than 40 northern B.C. communities. The program seeks to make northern towns more age-friendly, disability-friendly and inclusive for all citizens and visitors.
For all he has done, Harris has been recognized with numerous awards. The list includes: B.C. Wheelchair Sports Association Stan Strong volunteer of the year, 1988; City of Prince George Recreation Award of Merit, 1993 and 2007; B.C. Wheelchair Basketball Society coach of the year, 1999; B.C. Wheelchair Sports Association coach of the year, 2000; Canadian Wheelchair Sports Dr. Robert W. Jackson Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service; B.C. Wheelchair Basketball Society Outstanding Community Support Award, 2009; Wheelchair Basketball Canada Leadership Excellence Award, 2010; and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal, Canadian Paralympic Committee, 2013.
The latest honour to be bestowed upon Harris is his induction into the Prince George Sports Hall of Fame. For all he has done – and continues to do – he is a most welcome addition.
Lacrosse, and Dave Jenkins. Synonymous, in Prince George sporting circles.
Born in 1943 in Edmonton, Jenkins has made the city his home since 1968. And he has made it a better place to live, and compete, since that time.
Jenkins has devoted more than 20 years of his life, and much of his family’s time, to growing the sport of lacrosse to what it is today. His fingerprints are all over the game in the region, following his years as a successful lacrosse goaltender, by giving back to the sport he loves.
Few know that Jenkins achieved significant success as a hockey goaltender, a member of the Alberta Golden Bears roster that captured the 1964 CIAU national championship.
But it was on a dry floor where he excelled the most – winning provincial championships in senior lacrosse on at least two occasions, then being part of the 1974 Canadian champions.
As much as he posted notable career achievements as a player, his greatest impact would be directed from behind the bench.
Jenkins started coaching in 1988, and in 1995 he directed the Prince George midget team to the B.C. title. The B.C. Lacrosse Association named him the Minor Coach of the Year in 1998 after he guided the bantam A2 team to the provincial tournament. More success would come in 2003 (Junior B provincial crown) and 2006 (bantam A2 B.C. title), and along the way he coached in two Canadian Junior B Championship events. Some of his protégés advanced to play at the Junior A, Senior A and professional levels, including the National Lacrosse League.
As a builder, in both lacrosse and hockey, Jenkins has served terms as a director with the BCLA and as commissioner of the Cariboo Hockey League. He was a driving force in seeing the re-establishment of the senior lacrosse league in Prince George in 1987, a league that has had its ups and downs in terms of number of participating teams but a league that endures today.
Jenkins is also a noted lacrosse historian and an article he penned on Aboriginal lacrosse in Western Canada was published in LaxTalk magazine.
One of the most respected men in Prince George, and not just because he is a skilled lawyer who can sue your pants off – Dave Jenkins is a most worthy inductee into the Prince George Sports Hall of Fame.
After making his mark as one of Canada’s most formidable open-water and white-water canoe racers, Lyle Dickieson should have known he was destined for great things as a speed skater.
As a natural-born athlete, success is in his genes.
Although well into his late 40s before he discovered his talent on ice, the native of Calgary inherited his need for speed from his parents, Frank and Mildred, who both competed on long blades. His mom was an Alberta champion in the 1940s, a feat Lyle would accomplish several times as a B.C. masters champion, going on to win the Canadian masters championship twice, proving you don’t have to be young to excel in sports.
Not letting his bad knees slow him down, he went looking for a new challenge and joined the Prince George Blizzard Speed Skating Club and proved not only a worthy champion at sprint distances but showed he could take the punishment of marathon racing.
“I can’t do running so it’s a joy to be able to skate,” said Dickieson. “It’s so smooth and easy on us old farts. I’m not really a long-distance athlete, most canoe races are over in a few minutes.”
In the gruelling 100-kilometre event in the Sylvan Lake Ice Marathon he finished second in 2005 and 2006, then captured the 25km and 50km titles at the 2008 North American championships in Edmonton. In 2008-09 he set records in all his long track provincial races for his age category while claiming his third-straight B.C. Cup overall title.
Dickieson took on the best in the world in his age category at the international masters long track championships and came home with a 17th-place finish in 2007, topping that with a 14th-place result in 2011. Now a certified coach, he maintains his love of speed skating as an icemaker, one of the key members of the volunteer crew that builds and maintains the Exhibition Park outdoor ice oval.
Whether it’s skating on the ice or paddling a canoe on water, Dickieson knows the fast way to the finish line. His athletic prowess with a paddle in his hands earned him a spot on Canada’s white-water freestyle canoe team from 1995-1999 as a five-time winner of the Western Canada Open. Three times he represented Canada at the world white-water championships, placing fourth in 1995 in Germany, third in 1997 in Ottawa, and seventh in 1999 in New Zealand.
Dickieson also established the three-city Voyager Cup races, and organized the Willow River Whitewater Rodeo from the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s, winning the open canoe competition in all but one of those years.
His dedication and organizational skills made him a key figure on the executive of the Northwest Brigade Canoe Club. One of few to have mastered the art of rolling an open canoe without a paddle, he shared his knowledge and coaching techniques with instructors from youth programs at Camp Trapping, Intersect and in school District 57. Certified as a master instructor at national and provincial levels, he was a tireless promoter of programs that taught paddling skills to people with disabilities, and in 2007 was presented with the Brian Creer Award, the Recreational Canoeing Association of B.C.’s greatest honour.
On Oct. 10, 1998, the Prince George ski community lost a champion athlete, visionary and tireless worker in the development of the Otway Nordic Centre and trail system.
Niilo Itkonen was already a legend in cross-country skiing circles worldwide when he left his home nation of Finland in 1951, settling first in Burns Lake and, eventually, Prince George.
Before his death at 80 years of age, Itkonen was instrumental in the design and construction of the Otway facility and trails. Otway has a 75-kilometre trail network, including lights for night-time skiing, and put Prince George on the map in producing national-level skiers and coaches. Itkonen’s diligence in creating the ski centre is a significant reason why the Caledonia Nordic Ski Club is the largest in the B.C. with more than 1,300 members.
In addition to serving as president of the Caledonia club, Itkonen founded the “Ski for Light” program for the visually impaired and was a ski guide at the 1992 Paralympics in Albertville, France, for Prince George’s Kris Dittman.
Itkonen also served as an instructor at Otway from 1984 to 1987 and with the Sons of Norway from 1971 to 1976. His coaching resume includes a stint from 1965 to 1966 as Canada’s national biathlon team coach and from 1959 to 1965 as national cross-country ski coach. In 1965, Itkonen also took on the responsibility of president of the Canadian Ski Association for the cross-country ski division.
Later in life, from 1988 to 1990, he was president of the Canadian Masters cross-country ski association.
Twice, Itkonen was a coach for Canada’s Winter Olympians. In 1960 at Squaw Valley, California, he led the cross-country skiers, and in 1964 in Austria, he doled out advice for the biathletes.
Itkonen’s first Olympic coaching experience came when he led Finland’s cross-country skiers at the 1952 Games.
He was Finland’s national cross-country skiing coach from 1947 to 1950. That assignment came after his graduation from The Sports College in Vierumski, Finland, as a teacher in cross-country skiing.
As an athlete, Itkonen was a consistent winner in the various cross-country ski events he entered in northern B.C. in his age group. He competed in various distances at the Canadian Masters cross-country championships from 1983 to 1990, winning 16 gold medals and three silver medals.
In 1988, Itkonen competed at the Western Canadian Masters cross-country ski championships at the Nelson Nordic Club and finished on top of the men’s 60 to 69 category with a time of two hours 41 minutes 41.3 seconds -- a clocking that placed him third overall.
Itkonen was the veteran champion at the Canadian cross-country ski championships in 1964 and earned the senior championship in 1952 in the same event, held at Grouse Mountain in Vancouver.
Itkonen began cross-country ski racing when he was seven in his hometown of Savolinna, Finland, and captured the Finnish Championship for the 15km event in 1946 and 1947. During his mandatory tour of duty in the Finnish Army in 1939, he earned first place in the biathlon and finished second in the 20km cross-country race.
As a judo athlete, Sylvia Hausot went to the top of Canada.
Hausot's most successful year on the mat came in 2005 when she won the gold medal in the 78-kilogram division at the senior national championships in St. John’s, Newfoundland. The gold medal, which she claimed as a member of the North Capital Judo Club, was the first won by a B.C. senior judo athlete in six years.
Some of Hausot’s other accomplishments in 2005 included competing internationally. She placed second at the Finnish Open and was fifth at the U.S. Open in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. She also attended training camps in Sweden and at the U.S. Olympic training centre. It was also in 2005 that Hausot earned her black belt in judo.
In 2005 and 2006, Hausot fought to gold at the Ontario Open.
In 2007, she was back at the Canadian senior nationals and battled to a bronze medal in Trois-Rivieres, Que. Her medal came after she missed most of the 2006 season because of a knee injury. After the comeback bronze, she turned her attention to coaching full-time at North Capital, a club started by her father, Christian, in 2004.
Earlier in her career, Hausot captured gold at the 2004 Ontario Open. That taste of national success came after a seven-year hiatus from judo. Her break from the sport started after the 1998 season. That year, she had won double gold at the B.C. Games in Campbell River and gold at the U.S. junior nationals. As well, she competed at the Canadian senior national championships in Abbotsford as a junior competitor and took fifth place.