30 January 2024 The international Masters cross-country skiing community mourns the loss of its founder and an extraordinary personality: William D. Gairdner, passed away on January 12, 2024 at the age of 84 in his hometown of Richmond Hill, Canada/Ont.
Bill Gairdner was one of Canada's most prolific and influential contemporary intellectuals and authored many books and publications. His best-selling book "The Trouble with Canada" was a game-changer and inspired generations of Canadians to take an interest in public policy.
He earned a PhD in linguistics and literature at Stanford and then taught for a while at York University. He was extremely successful in founding a chain of fitness centers that sparked Canadians' interest in health and fitness very early on.
Gairdner, who himself came into contact with cross-country skiing relatively late, was a successful decathlete and hurdler and took part in the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
Gairdner brought masters cross-country skiing to life in Canada and founded "The Canadian Masters Cross-Country Ski Association". With foresight and with a view to fair age classifications, he introduced the five-year categories, which had not yet been used in any other nation.
After the two non-official Masters World Cups in 1980 in Morin Heights/Canada and 1982 in Uppsala/Sweden, representatives of 14 ski nations met on June 13, 1982 under the direction of Bill Gairdner and founded The World Masters Cross-Country Ski Association in Zurich. One of the main aims of the Masters movement and the WMA is to contribute to international understanding in addition to physical exercise on cross-country skis and fair competition on the trails.
A short time later, in 1983, the first official Masters World Cup (then Masters World Championships) was held in Telemark, WI, with 520 participants. And in February 2024 in Vuokatti/Finland, it will be the 42nd time that masters cross-country skiers from all over the world will meet for their Masters World Cup. Bill Gairdner was elected as the first President and was successfully active for the Association for 10 years. During his term of office, the foundations were laid for close cooperation with the FIS and the collaboration was sealed in the form of an affiliation agreement.
The Masters cross-country skiers of the world mourn the loss of their first president and will never forget him.