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Mike Wiegele -2
Mike & Michelle

Mike Wiegele

Aug. 27, 1938 – July 15, 2021

 

Mike passed away at 4:00 p.m. in the Beautiful Banff Mineral Springs Hospital amongst the mountains he loved.  He is survived by his wife Bonnie, daughter Michelle and grandson, Charlie Roy; sisters Paula Haide and Hilda Arnold in Austria; sister’s in law Jann Shubin in Nelson and Fransi Wiegele in Austria;  numerous nieces and nephews in Calgary and Nelson including Gord Wiegele, Ron Wiegele, Elizabeth Wiegele, Lucas Shubin and Logan Shubin, as well as many other relatives in Austria.

Mike arrived in Canada in 1959 to find the mountains he so dreamed about growing up on the family farm in Austria.   He joined his brother Val Wiegele and worked alongside in the Carpentry Business in Calgary.   Mike was close to the mountains and soon spent any spare moment climbing, skiing and yodeling above the tree line. Seeing a good opportunity in the famed resort of Lake Louise he soon acquired the position of Ski School Director where he developed young children’s ski and racing programs which put many on the National Ski Team and sent numerous top athletes to World Cup including Ken Read, Jungle Jim Hunter, Chris Kent and Cary Mullen.

Mike met his wife Bonnie on a beginner run in Lake Louise.  He quickly convinced her join him in his love for the sport.   They married in Banff in 1967 and together they hopped in a small Volkswagen to pursue their life in the mountains.   Soon a new baby Michelle arrived who then spent most of her time in a warm box at the bottom of the Temple Ski Lift where the ‘liftie’ in charge of loading skiers also accepted the chore of feeding.  Soon their family of three packed up and became residents of Banff.   Mike and Bonnie soon opened a ski rental shop called ‘Quick Rent a Ski’ where Mike continued his dreams of finding larger mountains and a faster way to get to the top.   In 1971 he found the small town of Blue River, B.C at the base of 3000 square miles of the Monashee and Caribou mountain ranges.  It was in Blue River that he continued his passion by  developing the sport of Helicopter Skiing – the faster way to reach the untouched powder he had dreamed of.   With family support, including more than 3 decades of his daughter Michelle working alongside him, he dedicated more than 50 years to creating a world renowned ski resort and mecca for enthusiastic skiers to enjoy the safety of the sport they love.  

 

Some of Mike’s Awards and Accomplishments:   

  • Established the foundations and safety standards of the heliski industry
  • Developed avalanche research program with University of Calgary
  • Instrumental in developing fat ski technology and popularizing off-piste skiing
  • Launched the Powder 8 World Championships
  • Established the Canadian Ski Guides Association
  • The Bravery Award from the Governor General of Canada
  • The Marshall Award for Excellence from Canada West Ski Areas Association for outstanding contribution to the betterment of the ski industry;
  • The Honour Roll of Canadian Skiing for outstanding contributions to the growth and development of skiing in Canada;
  • Hall of Fame from the Canadian Ski Instructor Alliance
  • Banff Sports Hall of Fame
  • Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree awarded by Thompson Rivers University

 

Mike’s final days were back where it all began.  He passed with his family and friends by his side in the mountains of Banff where those who knew him best believe he now continues to dream of being above the tree line.

Friends wishing to remember Mike, are encouraged to make a donation, in his memory, to the Mike Wiegele Avalanche Association Fund, P.O. Box 159, Blue River, BC  V0E 1J0

 

                                                                 “Lets Go Skiing”

 

I always wondered what it was that drew you here

Above the treeline.

Here where the mountains finish their journey

And stretch their arms toward the heavens.

Here where the confusion of Earthly Life is left far below,

And the world lies at your feet.

Here where the soul is unencumbered,

And the spirit is free to soar, to dream, and to forget.

Forget

That the world is not always blue skies that stretch forever,

Snow as pure as a child’s laugh, and heaven so close

You can almost touch it. Almost.

Dream.

Of a time when sunny days and the gathering of friends

Are reason enough to live.

I used to wonder what it was that drew you here

But I know now. I know now.

Farewell, gentle friend.

The mountain trails are forever yours now.

Perhaps one day we shall meet again.

Above the treeline.

 

 

Condolences for the family may be sent to www.bowriverfuneral.com

BOW RIVER FUNERAL SERVICE  assisting the family

Telephone 403-762-2159 for further information