OLD FRIENDS SWAP SUPER BOWL FOR SLOPES
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.