Valley Lives - Ron (King) Cole

The following article first appeared in "The Low Down to Hull and Back News" in the January 25, 2013 issue. Reprinted with permission.

Ski hall of fame would crown Hills 'King' Cole in glory

by Trevor Greenway

Ron (King) Cole may be headed for the Canadian Ski Hall of Fame - even though the 78-year-old Edelweiss resident never once topped the podium during his lifetime.

But even if Cole didn't aspire to the alpine heights, many under his guidance did.

"He was huge," said Edelweiss ski facility and golf course owner Mike Tommy, referring to Cole's contributions to ski racing in the Gatineau Valley. "He was all about running ski races in the area."

Cole founded both the Edelweiss Race Club and the Outaouais Ski Zone and also served as zone president for 20 years. He brought area skiing to the upper levels, lobbying organizers to stage big races in the Gatineau Hills - like the Pontiac Cup, Nor-Ams, Can-Ams and the Yoplait Cup.

"They were the biggest races we could get here, and he fought hard for them," said Tommy, who has spent countless hours with Cole on the slopes and golf courses, given that Cole also served as president of both the Mont Cascades and Edelweiss golf clubs.

When he wasn't on the ski hill verifying checkpoints or organizing the next competition, Cole would fill his station wagon with ski poles, boots and young local racers, heading for ski races across the province. One of those young racers was his daughter, Rhonda Cole-Miles, who first hit the slopes at age seven.

Two more girls, Roxanne and Leslie, and a son, Patrick, completed the family.

"The parent who had the station wagon was key," said Tommy, remembering the tumble of kids who would spill out of his vehicle on race day.

When daughter Rhonda quit skiing, he thought he would move on, too, but he couldn't steal away from the slopes.

He saw the competitions as such a positive activity for youth in the area, so much so that he had to stay on board to help guide them. He wanted to help keep kids off substances.

"I wanted to make sure they weren't smoking dope, and (races) kept them occupied," said Cole, who was recently named Builder of the Year for 2011 by the National Capital Outaouais Ski Team.

"It gave them another outlet."

For Cole, it was all about the kids.

He would bring in top-notch national skiers to teach kids what it takes to be a national skier and do anything he could to make skiing accessible to every child in the region.

Although he never raced himself, Cole was quite the athlete in his day, playing both football and hockey in the Ottawa area, where many say he was feared by his opponents.

Over the years, Cole has collected a host of awards, including four-time Builder of the Year from the Regional Sports Association, The Quebec Ski Federation, The National Capital Outaouais Ski Team and the Outaouais Ski Zone.

He was also named Sportsman of the Year by Le Droit newspaper in 1982 and was also the first FIS technical delegate from the region.

The now-retired King of the Hills still finds he can't stay away from the slopes and he still helps out at local races here and there. His name could soon be in the Canadian Ski Hall of Fame, as his fellow co-workers and co-volunteers have put his name up for nomination.

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