You might say Pat was born with a passion for skiing and racing. With both his parents competing nationally in the sport, there was little doubt him and his brother would have an innate ability for skiing.
Born in Australia, Pat and his family moved back to Canada where he joined the Ottawa Ski Club when he was 6. Already having been skiing for several years in Australia, Pat eagerly joined the race program at Camp Fortune and spent years, “having fun and skiing with my friends.”
When he was a young pre-teen, he started watching more World Cup races on T.V. and began thinking, “It would be cool to do that.” Rising through the ranks, Pat joined the Ontario Ski Team and eventually would go on to ski the World Cup circuit (with top 10 results in slalom) and two Olympic Winter Games (Turin 2006 and Vancouver 2010).
He attributes a critical part of his success to his family. “We skied as a family. It was a way of life, and a way for us to enjoy being together and have something to do outside in the winter. We genuinely had a love and passion for the sport, and that, along with the commitment of my family to be out at the hill was instrumental in me pursuing skiing at a higher level.”
Following his retirement from racing in 2012, Pat kept his deep connection to the sport alive, joining the Camp Fortune Ski Club as a Coach, and later, as President, then Program Director. Looking for a meaningful way to continue his involvement in the sport, Pat joined Alpine Ontario Alpin as the Executive Director in May 2022.
“It feels good to give back to an organization from which I benefitted so much through my years as an athlete,” he said. “I’m looking forward to reconnecting across the province and understanding how we can best support our clubs, create safe, inclusive and fun experiences for all, and develop the next generation of future champions.”
“The past several years have been extremely tough for our sport,” he said. “The pandemic forced closures of our hills and severely limited the programs and races that could be offered. Not only that, but our organization had to function with extremely limited resources, including staff. It made it difficult to provide the level of service to our members that was expected.”
“I’m happy to report that we are rebuilding significantly,” continued Pat. “We have hired new staff and are working extensively on servicing our members. Specifically, we want to bring clarity and simplicity to what can be a daunting and overly-complex sport. Skiing is all about the basics. Focus in on what is important, and do the small things right. There will always be some small differences in opinion, but remember, we’re all doing it for the same reason: the love of skiing.”
Pat, who has spent much of his life in the high-performance realm speaks candidly about sport in general. “We are entering a new era for sport. AOA and all sport organizations must hold ourselves to a higher standard and duty of care for all who participate. Creating a safe and inclusive environment where kids can thrive at all levels is one of my biggest priorities.”
Throughout the past several months, as Pat has taken on the challenge of his new role, he has been working on building connections and areas for collaboration. He said, “I am doing a lot of listening trying to understand the current environment. I’m looking for answers to questions such as ‘where are we?’, ‘what are our challenges?,’ and ‘how can we best service our members?.”
With the 2022-23 fast approaching, Pat is eager to get back on snow and do what he loves most – ski. “I have two young boys who participate in the program at Camp Fortune, and my wife and I love to be out there with them.”
His advice to current athletes is, “Enjoy the journey. You’re going to be faced with many challenges that can steer you off course and be discouraging at times. Always remember why you’re there. You’re there for the love and passion of the sport. Celebrate the successes, persevere through defeat, and keep a long-term focus.”
For Pat, his favourite part about racing is, “The search for the perfect turn – and then linking one turn after another. It’s such a difficult motor skill to get the timing and pressure just right. When it all comes together, you get this incredible flow, this incredible high, it’s a feeling that’s hard to describe.”
The challenge for perfection – whether on the hill – or leading AOA – is what makes Pat Biggs reach for more.