Skateboards and cowboys don’t usually go hand in hand unless you’re Sun Peaks local Kenny Dale.
To say Dale’s tale is a curious one is an understatement — a cowboy by day and skateboarder by night, he’s probably best known for being an Olympic and World Cup speed skier.
Dale was born in Calgary and moved to Kamloops when he was three-years-old. He grew up playing hockey in Kamloops and skateboarded. In 1977 he won the junior Canadian skateboarding championships. He learned to ski after midget hockey, and naturally started racing.
“I used to race a lot of recreational downhill races through B.C. and Alberta . . . I ended up hearing about speed skiing in the mid 1980s,” Dale said.
Dale was inspired to start speed skiing by the world’s fastest, like Kent Wills, world champion speed skier, and Terry Watts, World Cup champion. In the 1980s Wills and Watts helped organize a recreational speed skiing tour titled the Canada Cooler Dash series. Dale credits competing in the Cooler Dash for fueling his passion for speed skiing.
Dale went on to compete in speed skiing at the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, France, when speed skiing was a demonstration sport. His wife Lark Frolek-Dale also competed and placed sixth in the women’s speed skiing.
“It was just the experience of a lifetime,” Dale said. “We put in a bunch of years prior to that travelling to Europe and getting on the World Cup circuit just to have the points to be named for the team.”
Since then Dale went on to compete in countless speed skiing events and in 2007 he won a World Cup final in the FIS Speed Ski World Cup at Sun Peaks. He also holds the record for the Sun Peaks Velocity Challenge, at 177.21 km/h set in 2002.
But speed skiing’s is only one part of his story. Dale’s had a varied work life, he’s worked in geophysics and geology in mining, in the forestry industry, and now he’s a cowboy for the Frolek Cattle Company.
“I’ve been working on the ranch for just about 20 years,” said Dale, adding that in the down season on the ranch he works a sawmill he has at his home.
And he still loves skateboarding, which led him to purchase a large glass dome from an old restaurant, the Dome Motor Inn in Kamloops, to house a skateboard half-pipe.
“We skate at least once or twice a week during the winter, it’s a lot of fun, great training,” Dale said.
Dale agreed that the case of the skateboarding cowboy was unusual.
“I don’t think there’s too many of us!”