OLD FRIENDS SWAP SU­PER BOWL FOR SLOPES

Edmonton Journal - - CITY - NICK LEES

A group of Ed­mon­ton bud­dies will miss the Su­per Bowl for the 50th straight year, to schuss down the slopes of Jasper’s Mar­mot Basin ski re­sort.

Ivan Ra­dos­tits, the man head­ing the trip, is so bossy his friends call him The Ay­a­tol­lah.

“There’s no doubt he’s an al­pha male,” said Jasper’s Emil Jabs, 68, who on the Feb. 2-3 Su­per Bowl week­end will or­ga­nize ac­com­mo­da­tion, meals and a ski race on the hill for 25 peo­ple.

“Ivan will wan­der the room af­ter a good day’s ski­ing with a flash­light. Sud­denly he will point it in some­one’s face and say, ‘You are it.’ The per­son must or­ga­nize the event the fol­low­ing year.”

Jabs, a for­mer Ed­mon­ton mu­si­cian, says no one has ever said no.

“The Ay­a­tol­lah is gen­er­ous and a real sweet­heart,” he said. “He turns 80 Feb. 14, Valen­tine’s Day.”

Ra­dos­tits re­tired af­ter 46 years in the food re­tail­ing busi­ness, sell­ing his five Ed­mon­ton and Mor­inville Sobeys su­per­mar­kets.

Friends say he has the skills and cre­den­tials of a leader who can swipe away crit­i­cism with a smile, a joke and some­times even sin­cer­ity.

To­day, Ra­dos­tits makes light of any per­sonal recog­ni­tion, in­clud­ing be­ing named an hon­orary Cal­gar­ian and pre­sented with a white Stet­son for his work at the 1988 Cal­gary Win­ter Olympics.

His many other hats in­clude serv­ing as chair­man of the Al­berta Pad­dles As­so­ci­a­tion’s an­nual White Wa­ter Ca­noe Race from Rocky Moun­tain House in 1967, Canada’s Cen­ten­nial Year.

He has served as pres­i­dent of the Ed­mon­ton South Ro­tary Club and was awarded the Ro­tary In­ter­na­tional Paul Har­ris Fel­low­ship in 1984.

That was the year he met Pope John Paul II three times while serv­ing as vice-pres­i­dent of the Al­berta Pa­pal Visit Sec­re­tar­iat.

A li­censed pi­lot and Cessna 182 owner, Ra­dos­tits was a di­rec­tor of the Ed­mon­ton Fly­ing Club at the end of the ’80s.

But Ra­dos­tits prefers turn­ing talk to the Su­per Bowl Ski Team, par­tic­u­larly its be­gin­nings in 1970.

“You could be con­sid­ered a so­cial out­cast if you didn’t watch the Su­per Bowl back then,” he said.

“The North Amer­i­can con­ti­nent nearly shut down and peo­ple were known to skip church. But I was one of five friends who de­cided while sit­ting around it was an Amer­i­can game and we should take ad­van­tage of the ski lift lines be­ing shorter.”

Off to Banff went Ra­dos­tits, his brother-in-law, the late Jimmy Bate­man, oil-gas en­tre­pre­neur Rae Allen, gov­ern­ment ad­viser Don Hamil­ton and school prin­ci­pal Leif Stole.

“I was 40 at the time and it was my first ski trip to the moun­tains,” Allen said. “I par­tic­u­larly re­mem­ber Leif hav­ing us in stitches when he climbed in a TV-style cup­board and popped in and out to por­tray Ernest Man­ning in his Back to the Bi­ble Hour.”

There was no ques­tion af­ter that first Su­per Bowl Ski Team week­end there would be oth­ers. The team has now skied all of Al­berta’s re­sorts and many in B.C.

The group’s gui­tarist, Wal­ter Falchuk, was the chair­man of the Sun­shine event in 1978 when the team held its first race, a dual slalom. It pairs two rac­ers of equal abil­ity against one an­other and old ri­val­ries con­tinue to­day.

Re­tired den­tist Ed McIn­tyre re­ported Satur­day from Puerto Val­larta, Mex­ico, the group re­cently lost its banjo player Grant McCarthy and re­called many good sin­ga­long nights in which he was in­volved.

“I re­mem­ber one night fel­low guests did not ap­pre­ci­ate our singing tal­ents and two se­cu­rity of­fi­cers ar­rived at our door,” he said.

“Ivan the Ay­a­tol­lah cheek­ily an­nounced loudly the group had ac­quired two new singers. We were per­haps lucky to be asked to just tone it down.”

Three years ago, the team was Cat ski­ing at South­ern Al­berta’s Cas­tle Moun­tain in deep snow when a ran­dom count re­vealed six skiers were aged over 75 and a few were aged more than 80.

“Sadly, we have lost more than 10 skiers over our half a cen­tury,” Ra­dos­tits said. “But the sons of some of our ear­lier skiers have stepped in.”

McIn­tyre said the group has many par­ents whose chil­dren were rac­ers at Ed­mon­ton’s Snow Val­ley Ski Club.

“We don’t need Google to check num­bers,” he says. “The Ay­a­tol­lah knows all.”

A WEE DRAM?

The very pop­u­lar Ed­mon­ton Whisky Fes­ti­val, the 10th an­nual, is ex­pected to at­tract a sell­out crowd of 600 afi­ciona­dos to the Delta Ho­tel on Gate­way Boule­vard Wed­nes­day night.

“Many prin­ci­pals, from dis­tillers and mas­ter blenders, will be on hand to chat about their sin­gle malts and the world’s ev­er­in­creas­ing de­mand for whisky,” said Steve Rich­mond, Vines Wine Mer­chants’ own in-house whisky ex­pert who spear­heads the fes­ti­val.

“Some 175 whiskies, from Scot­land, Ire­land, Canada and the U.S. will be there to be sam­pled. We are sup­port­ing the MS So­ci­ety and there will be a silent auc­tion and a draw for a whisky bot­tle per month for a year.”

A VIP event and four mas­ter classes are sold out, but there still are some tick­ets avail­able at $90. Go to Ed­mon­ton whiskyfes­ti­val.ca. There of course will be High­land dancers and hag­gis sausage rolls.

Ivan Ra­dos­tits, 79, known to his friends as The Ay­a­tol­lah for his bossy ways, will miss the Su­per Bowl again for the 50th straight year — to go ski­ing.

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