Spring 2008, Issue #12

>> By Heather Lea

Isabel Courier is a legend in Revelstoke, best known for her ski-jumping abilities during the 1920s.

Born in 1906 during a times when women did not necessarily pursue sports—especially risky sports—Isabel was a novelty from the start.

She was 16 years old when she broke a world record, jumping 84-feet at what is now known as the Nels Nelson Historic Ski Jump on Mount Revelstoke. From that day forward, Isabel was celebrated as being the first female world champion ski-jumper.


image2In a ski tournament held in Washington on July 4, 1923, young Isabel marveled her audience once again, jumping on the icy slopes of Mount Rainier. For this exhibition, she received a special medal and an ovation from the distinguished audience, which included then-president, Warren Harding.


Isabel was the first woman to jump unsupported by a male partner. Up until then, all females jumped holding the hand of a man.

A member of the Revelstoke Ski Club, Isabel confidently jumped alongside her male contemporaries, such as Nels Nelsen, an immigrant from Norway to Revelstoke, who also held a world record for his jump of 240-feet.

Isabel was the first woman to jump unsupported by a male partner. Up until then, all females jumped holding the hand of a man.

When Isabel was eight years old, a trapper friend of the family’s, Bob Blackmore, made her a set of skis.

This was all she needed to get well on her way. Coursier stated in an interview in 1968 that she was appalled by the commercialism probing parents and tempting kids to buy the best equipment and spend more money on training. She had had no formal coaching. “None of us ever did … I never saw anybody coaching anyone,” she remarked in another interview, “That’s why we all had different styles.”

A headstrong woman, Isabel would declare that riding lifts was “the lazy person’s approach,” saying the need tor ski lifts and tows was largely to blame for many ski injuries and accidents. Muscles did not have the chance to condition property when the skier rode a lift and just glided down in what she deemed ‘a monotonous cycle.’

Isabel Coursier was world champion from 1922 to 1929. She often travelled back and forth between Montreal, Revelstoke and the UK for formal education, and then eventually through her career as a physical education teacher. She retired in 1967, moved back to Canada and settled in Parksville on Vancouver Island where she is presumed to have lived until she passed away October 16, 1980 at the age 74.