Pleased as punch: Whitewater Ski Team enjoying popularity

Outgoing president of Whitewater Ski Team thrilled with enrolment.

Tracy Punchard has overseen significant growth during her five years as president of the Whitewater Ski Team.

Tracy Punchard is ready to pass the torch.

The president of the Whitewater Ski Team will end her five-year tenure this spring once the season is done. She’s leaving the team in a much better place than it was when she started.

“We’re really pleased with that because every other ski team in the province and pretty much the country is experiencing declining enrolment, and we just keep growing,” said Punchard, who will hand the reins to successor John Van Der Holt.

The alpine race team, which includes athletes ages five to 18, has experienced significant growth under Punchard. Whitewater didn’t have more than 40 skiers on the team between 2001 to 2008. Enrolment began to improve in 2009 and broke 100 in 2014, according to Punchard.

This year’s team includes 129 athletes, six of whom just returned from the BC Winter Games in Penticton.

Punchard believes a few factors have added up to the team’s enrolment growth.

The blue jackets dotting the slopes, for example, have done their part. Punchard put an emphasis on branding to keep the team visible, a move that appears to have paid off.

“They stand out,” she said. “Everybody knows who the Whitewater Ski Team is and the younger kids see these older kids with the jackets and say, ‘I want to be there, I want to be like that.'”

Punchard, who worked to build the team’s business relationships, helped facilitate a deal between the team and Whitewater Ski Resort to construct a yurt near the resort’s lodge. That’s given her athletes a place to gather, as well as a venue to interact with parents. “They really build that team camaraderie there. It becomes like a social club there,” she said.

Punchard said she’s relieved to be leaving the job. As the team has grown, so has her workload.

“The challenge now that I’ve been working on this last year and I’ll hand over to John will be really I think at an administrative level,” said Punchard. “How to manage such growth and such a large team, streamlining all the administration.”

Punchard, an English instructor at Selkirk College, plans to continue helping out with the team. Her children, Oso and Coda, are skiers in the program and her husband coaches.

“[John’s] got work ahead of him,” she said with a laugh.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Lead found in Nelson, Creston and Salmo schools

Fourteen water fountains tested for higher than accepted lead content

UPDATED: Man dies in backcountry near Whitewater Ski Resort

The victim was found unresponsive in a tree well Friday

Small, Little to represent Kootenays at mixed curling provincials

The pair won the regional playdowns last weekend in Trail

Nelson asks RDCK for clarity on recycling costs

City paid $216,217 to collect rural neighbours’ recycling in 2019, wants to see the math

Prominent Slocan Valley environmental activist dies

Marilyn Burgoon was ‘tough and determined’

VIDEO: The Library Rock(s)

Friends and fans of the Nelson library packed the Capitol Theatre Friday to celebrate 100 years

Warm ‘blob’ could be behind mass starvation of North Pacific seabirds: study

Unprecedented death toll raises red flag for North American marine ecosystems

ICBC to bring in ranking system for collision, glass repair shops

Change comes after the much-maligned auto insurer has faced criticism for sky-high premiums

‘It was just so fast’: B.C. teen recalls 150-metre fall down Oregon mountain

Surrey’s Gurbaz Singh broke his leg on Mount Hood on Dec. 30

B.C. woman crowned the fastest female marathon runner in Canadian history

Malindi Elmore ran an incredible 2:24:50 at the Houston Marathon

Alberta bulldog breeder ordered to refund B.C. buyer over puppy’s behaviour

Tribunal ruled a verbal agreement to send a new dog superseded the written contract

Cariboo Memorial Hospital on the mend after cold weather wreaks havoc

Burst pipes and water leaks cause three different incidents

Dog reunited with Tofino owner, months after being taken from beach

Shannon Boothman ‘ecstatic’ at pet’s return after a tip leads to social media search

Most Read