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RIP FRANK McCUSKER - James Cove, PlanetSKI Editor
Tuesday June 27, 2017 - Email this article to a friend

Our editor, James Cove, pays tribute to the Chief Executive of the Ski Club of Great Britain who has died of a heart attack. He was 55.

 

Frank introduced himself to the UK snowsports industry on Wednesday 30th October 2012 at the Club's annual industry party held that year at the Winchester Club in Putney.

It was after the first day of the London Ski & Snowboard Show and I'd already heard that he had questioned the very idea of the industry party and asked what benefit all the expense was to the average Ski Club member.

Few people in the audience knew who he was or had met him before.

He was an outsider.

In his welcome speech he told us how he was coming in with new ideas, how he wanted to re-focus the Ski Club on its members, ask questions of the UK snowsports industry that hadn't been asked before and move it in a different direction.

He criticised how some things were currently done and stopped short of telling us that the industry was complacent and somewhat self-satisfied - but the implication was there.

Some people in the audience didn't like an outsider telling them their business.

Most just carried on drinking the free booze.

I agreed with pretty much every word he said.

Frank was an abrupt, straight talking Scotsman who did things his way.

He ignored many of the cosy arrangements in the UK snowsports industry and wanted to build bridges, get people on board and move forward.

He had a number of his pet projects; setting up a fund to help our elite GB snowsports athletes, showcasing the achievements of our disabled snowsports athletes, getting more young people into snowsports and trying to give the Ski Club and the wider snowsports community a vision for the future.

He was a recreational holiday skier.

Previously senior figures in the Ski Club were expert skiers with wide contacts within the industry - there were gentlemen's arrangements and many things were done a certain way just because they had always been done that way.

Frank always asked ‘Why?' then decided how he thought things should happen and marched on regardless.

He often bulldozed his way through meetings ignoring waffle and accepted positions.

He ruffled a few feathers along the way including mine.

I once wrote a piece about some behind the scenes machinations at the Ski Club for PlanetSKI.

He phoned me at home as I was having breakfast and demanded I changed it.

I refused because it was accurate and I judged that it should be in the public domain.

A Mexican standoff developed with neither of us budging or giving ground.

"You need to change it," he demanded.

"No I don't," I retorted.

"Yes you do."

"No I don't."

And on it went.

The next time we met it made no difference to our relationship and I think we both respected each other a bit more..

I did to him.

Like me he was a judge at the World Snow Awards and we had a healthy debate about which way some of the awards went.

I remember debating which was the most improved US resort a few years ago.

He opted for Jackson Hole as it had greatly improved net promoters scores - a statistical analysis of how a resort is doing with its customers (Frank liked his statistics).

I chose Breckenridge as it had a new lift and I simply loved the skiing off it.

Over dinner at a restaurant in the City hosted by Austria Tourism last autumn we sat next to each other and I disagreed with him over the future of skiing.

I took a pessimistic view and he was more optimistic - it was an interesting discussion and the rest of the people at our end of the table just listened as we locked horns.

It is 5 years since he took on the role of CEO and the Ski Club has changed enormously and has moved into the modern era.

Some believe it is less relevant than it once was and others believe it is more relevant and welcomed its change in direction.

We will not know the result for a few years as Frank was always looking forward - his mind was focused a few years down the road.

He was also a doer who simply liked to get things done.

It is rare that the two come together in a single person.

Some people have visions for the future but don't know how to implement them.

Others get things done but never quite know where they are going.

Frank had both qualities.

I heard late on Monday night that he had died as I was walking home having had dinner with my wife after returning from a summer ski trip to Les2Alpes.

I had drunk a couple of beers and shared a bottle of wine. I sobered up instantly.

I couldn't quite believe it. I still can't.

He was three years younger than me.

I will miss him and, far more importantly, so will the UK snowsports industry.

Rest in peace Frank.


Frank McCuskerFrank McCusker














For PlanetSKI's news report on his death that has further tributes and is being regulalry updated then see here:

Frank (first left) judging World Snow AwardsFrank (first left) judging World Snow Awards

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Frank McCuskerFrank McCusker

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




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