CALGARY, ALTA. — Alpine Canada president and CEO Max Gartner announced Wednesday that he plans to step down once a successor can be found to lead the governing body for alpine, para-alpine and ski cross racing into a crucial season which includes the 2014 Olympic Winter Games.
Gartner, of Calgary, Alta., has worked for Alpine Canada in various coaching and management positions since 1982 and he was appointed president in the fall of 2010. The 54-year-old originally planned to step down when his contract expires after the 2014 Games in Sochi, Russia, but as part of his succession planning he decided to tender his resignation early in order to ensure the new president and CEO is in place for the 2013-14 season.
“I am extremely proud of the achievements of our athletes and coaches over the years, and I am honored to have supported this organization in various roles for over 30 years,” said Gartner, a longtime ski coach and manager who worked with many of Canada’s biggest stars, including Thomas Grandi, Cary Mullen and Ed Podivinsky.
“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. It has been a very challenging time for all winter sports organizations and it is my view that Alpine Canada needs to start preparing for any further changes in the sports landscape that are forthcoming after Sochi by putting in place long-term plans that will hopefully provide better support for all of our athletes.
“We have put together a world-class team of coaches and athletes and with just eight months to go until the Olympic Games, our racers are motivated, energized and ready to bring some medals home to Canada. I feel good about leaving the organization in very good hands on the athletic side.”
Gartner, a native of Linz, Austria, is a former professional soccer player who spent five years at the famed Stams Ski Academy in Austria. After joining Alpine Canada as an assistant coach he went on to work with both the men’s and women’s alpine teams and in 1991 the Canadian Ski Coaches’ Federation named him Coach of the Year. Gartner took on the role of chief athletic officer in 2003 and oversaw Alpine Canada’s ski racing programs until he succeeded Gary Allan as president in 2010.
During his time as president and CEO of the national governing body, Gartner emphasized the importance of safety in ski racing and in 2011 he hosted the first annual Ski Racing Safety Summit in Calgary. A year later, a second summit was held with a special emphasis on safety in the sport of ski cross. A number of the recommendations announced at the summit were later accepted and adopted by the International Ski Federation.
Gartner, who became a father figure to many of his athletes because of his humility, warmth and compassion, plans to stay involved in sport and has offered to help his successor transition into his or her new role.
“Since being hired as an assistant coach for the Canadian Alpine Ski Team in 1982, I have embraced ski racing in Canada wholeheartedly,” said Gartner, who is married to Olympic downhill gold medalist Kerrin Lee-Gartner and has two daughters, one of whom was recently named to the national alpine development team.
“I have given my all both on and off the hill. It has been a lengthy but gratifying journey from my first job in 1982, to my first Olympic Games in 1984 in Sarajevo, to my personal highlight of watching John Kucera and Erik Guay win back-to-back World Championship downhill titles in 2009 and 2011.
“I am very proud of the successful integration of ski cross into Alpine Canada and the continued success of that program – winning three medals at the Olympic test event in Sochi – as well as the outstanding results of our para-alpine team and their record-breaking medal performances at this year’s world championships.”
Danny Minogue, chairman of Alpine Canada’s board of directors, praised Gartner’s “athlete-first approach” and his dedication to the sport. He added that the search for a new president and CEO would begin immediately.
“Max is a man of great integrity and professionalism who has always put Alpine Canada and its athletes first,” said Minogue, the founder and CEO of Minogue Medical Inc. and Minogue FitTime Nutrition. “We are very sad that he is stepping down but I would like to offer our thanks for his many years of service and all that he has done for ski racing in Canada.”