Ask anyone who knows her, Peggy Kassa is a force to be reckoned with. Summer or winter, don’t blink or you’ll miss this dynamo on the way to her next event. Whether it’s waterskiing and stand up paddling on Okanagan Lake in summer, cross country and alpine skiing at Silver Star in winter, or volunteering all year round, the flame-haired whirlwind is always on the move.
Want to be on a team for the Carter Classic to raise money for Silver Star Adaptive Snow Sports? See Peggy.
Think it might be fun to join a team to golf in Wine, Women and Woods at Predator Ridge in support of the fight to end breast cancer? Give Peggy a call.
Or maybe you’re just up for a casual costumed Halloween stand up paddleboard tour of Okanagan Lake. Whatever the occasion, adorned with fuschia tutu’s or neon indigo boas, her teams always have fun. “We’ve won most years for the best costume at both events,” says Peggy, wrapping a wide gold belt, slated to be part of her Wonder Woman costume for the next event, around her enviably shapely waist.
Calgary native and florist in her past life, Peggy, is certified to teach alpine, cross-country and telemark skiing as well as snowboarding. She’s been at it for 40 years. “I love it. It keeps you young,” she says. When not on the slopes you’ll find her out on the trails at Silver Star with her snowshoeing buddies, dogs Kona and Kula.
Peggy began her ski career at the age of 18, instructing at Happy Valley, Sunshine, Lake Louise and Mount Norquay. After moving to Vernon, she and her husband, local realtor Don Kassa, coached Snow Mites, the four and five year olds, with the Vernon Ski Club. Now her most rewarding volunteer role is as head of the Ladies and Men’s Day programs at Silver Star.
“Fifteen years ago Darren Richmond, then head of the snowsport school, asked me if I would like to take it on,” she says. “I’d already been involved as an instructor for 10 years. I said yes. I knew it was something I’d enjoy doing.”
The Silver Star Ladies Day program is the longest continually running program of its kind in BC. Silver Star’s first ski school director, Austrian Willie Leitner, originally advertised it as Housewive’s Fun Day, and wondered if anyone would show up. He needn’t have worried. That first Monday in 1961, thirty-five women arrived as well as two men wearing dresses over their ski suits who wanted to join the fun.
The Unstoppable Peggy Kassa
story by Patti Shales Lefkos
photos by Jessie Voss
When Peggy took over the Ladies Day program, there were 50 participants. Now more than 100 women gather on Tuesdays for morning group lessons followed by lunch, fashion shows, guest speakers and countless door prizes like Ousia Spa sessions, Flower Spot Coupons, nights at the Vance Creek Hotel or private ski lessons, all donated by local businesses.
“The Ladies love the prizes,” she says. “Some win more than the price of the program,” she says. Wednesday Men’s Day started with 11 men. Peggy has raised the count to more than 70.
All a bit too energetic for you? Consider this. In 1986 Peggy suffered a serious head injury in a small plane accident. After ten days in the hospital, she recovered much better than the neurologist expected. “It’s due to my stubbornness,” she says. “And Don’s support. I had two small kids at the time.”
Three years ago she had brain surgery again to deal with the pain that has continued to plague her over the years. “Dr. Lefevre in Kelowna changed my life. It has been an absolute turnaround for me.”
Peggy’s currently ramping up for another round of Ladies and Men’s Day in 2014. “I love watching women and men learn to ski,” she says. “And I think one of the most important aspects of the programs is women and men finding new friends at their same level of skiing and boarding they can ski with on other days. That’s happening a lot.
”Bring on another season. “I don’t plan on quitting. I love it,” she says.