One of WinSport’s longest serving volunteers is still giving back to the community

If you’ve skied or snowboarded on WinSport’s hill, there’s a good chance you’ve seen Paul Quan.

Paul Quan has been volunteering at skate and ski programs at WinSport since the 1988 Winter Olympics.

Let’s just say he frequents the place quite a bit. In fact, the 80-year-old has been at WinSport nearly every day since the 1988 Winter Olympics, donating thousands of hours of his time to do one simple thing – help people who are learning to ski and skate.

“Somebody on the hill needs my help,” Paul explains when asked what has given him the motivation to come to WinSport every day for the last 27 years. “There’s always somebody who is just learning and might be stressed out on the hill and I just want to help them.”

The concept of helping people is something that you could say is part of Paul’s DNA. After retiring from his career as a building designer with the City of Calgary, Paul volunteered with the Calgary Police Service and then at the 1988 Olympics. Riding on the momentum of the Olympics, Paul shifted the focus from helping organizers of the Olympics host a successful event, to helping countless Calgarians feel comfortable and welcome while they learn winter sports.

Depending on the day, he’ll either be on the ski hill or in the Markin MacPhail Centre (MMC) helping with the skating programs.

“I’ll ski around and help people who have fallen, help them up and make sure they’re OK,” Paul explains, adding that he plays a similar role when volunteering with the skating programs. “I’ll also make sure people have a helmet and are having a good time.”

Paul says he understands that skating on ice, or a skiing down a hill can be intimidating. He moved to Canada from China in 1960, so snow and winter sport were completely foreign to him when he first set foot on Canadian soil.

“I was always active as a kid growing up in China and one of the things I used to do was swim in the river with water buffalo,” Paul explains adding that he was eager to try Canada’s winter sports.

“At first I thought people were stupid to put on these six foot long sticks on your feet and go down a hill,” Paul explains with a laugh. “But then you go, and you’re hooked.”

In Paul’s case, being ‘hooked’ to winter sport is something that is benefiting the many people who have met one of WinSport’s longest standing volunteers. Whether it was a conversation, a wave, or being picked up off the ground after a tumble on the hill – Paul has helped and continues to help people young and old who come to discover sports at WinSport. He’s one of more than 200 dedicated volunteers who help the more than one million people who visit the campus to participate in the year-round activities. It brings gratification to each volunteer in different ways, but for Paul, just seeing the smiles on the faces of the people he’s helped is what makes him come back every day.

“I like when they see me and wave or give the thumbs up,” Paul says about the most gratifying thing about being a volunteer ski ambassador. “It’s a good feeling when people recognize you and you know you have had a positive impact on their life.”

By volunteering for WinSport you can help provide essential support to various departments and activities while gaining valuable work experience. If you have a passion for sport, leadership or community, please view our volunteer opportunities here and help people become better than yesterday:

What it takes to build a snow tube park

WinSport is launching a new and exciting activity the whole family can take in this winter – The Acura Tube Park.

The Acura Tube Park construction began with the installation of a magic carpet and building an area to slow tubes down at the bottom of the run.

This giant park, located on Canada Olympic Park, has variety of lanes some of which are 200 metres in length. It also has its own dedicated magic carpet. It’s a great way to get on snow and enjoy winter for those who don’t fancy skiing or snowboarding or for those just wanting to try a different winter activity.

But what does it take to make Western Canada’s largest tube park? Mike Tanner has the answer. He’s the Director of Venues at WinSport and has a wealth of experience building and consulting snow structures at WinSport and the Canmore Nordic Centre. He also travelled to Salt Lake City, Utah, to help build structures for the 2002 Winter Olympics.

Mike says one of the biggest challenges isn’t creating create speed on the park, it’s to ensure the riders can slow down safely. As a result, a significant amount of dirt was needed on the north east side of the hill.

“A total of 8,000 cubic metres of dirt was put down in that area to create the outrun, or stopping area,” Mike explains. “It’s a lot of dirt and it took about four weeks to complete with the assistance of bulldozers and rock trucks.”

From there, WinSport staff tested the grade to ensure tubers would be able to reach a fast, but safe speed. Once Mike’s team determined the grade was sufficient, they began to build the lanes using a special attachment that hooks onto the back of a snowcat.

The Acura Tube Park has 10 lanes, each 200 metres in length, making it the largest of its kind in Western Canada.

“We just drive it down and it plow the snow in a way that forms banks on both sides, essentially forming the walls of a tube lane,” Mike explains. “We just continue the process until 10 lanes are formed.”

Lanes 1 and 2 are slower for kids, while the rest are faster lanes for adults. Now that the park is built all that’s left is the regular upkeep.

“The maintenance on the park is quite minimal and all we really have to do is groom it every night to make sure the lanes are smooth and not icy,” Mike explains.

WinSport is kicking off the opening with a Christmas themed event which includes Christmas music and a visit from Santa on December 17 and 18. Santa will be based in the Frank King Day Lodge, just outside the WinSport Coffee Market, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.