New statue proposal as part of overhaul of Revelstoke’s Grizzly Plaza

Statue of world champion ski jumper Isabel Coursier proposed as part of overhaul renovation of Grizzly Plaza.

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A design concept for the design of the new Grizzly Plaza bandshell. Image: City of Revelstoke

Arts Revelstoke is seeking support for a full-size statue of Revelstoke ski jumper Isabel Coursier to be placed in Grizzly Plaza as part of an overhaul of the downtown square.

New lighting for the Grizzly Plaza gazebo is one of several improvements suggested by the city’s enhancement committee. Photo: Aaron Orlando/Revelstoke Mountaineer file photo

In a letter to city council that will be discussed at their Sept. 14 meeting, Arts Revelstoke is requesting permission to place the statue in the plaza.

The cost for the work is $90,000 which a city report says Arts Revelstoke will pay for, part of their LUNA Legacy project.

Who was Isabel Coursier?

Born in Revelstoke – first women’s world champion in ski-jumping in the 1920s. She also participated in ski-joring, skiing behind a horse. Photo: Revelstoke Museum & Archives

Isabel Coursier was a pioneering world champion Revelstoke ski jumper. She was active in the 1920s, during a time when ski jumping was one of the more popular forms of skiing.

Revelstoke boasted a world-class ski jump that attracted competitors from around the world for international competitions.

Coursier set the women’s world record at age 16 in 1929, jumping 84 feet. She retired from ski jumping in 1929 with her world record uncontested.

Revelstoke’s big jump, which is now the historic Nels Nelsen Ski Jump attraction in Mount Revelstoke National Park, was notorious, known for intimidating visiting jumpers, to the delight of local ski jumping fans.

 

Although Coursier is a known figure in the pantheon of Revelstoke historical personalities, the creators of the statue project feel her accomplishments haven’t been as well recognized as other renowned male jumpers and hope the statue will be a part of changing that.

What’s happening with the Grizzly Plaza renovation?

File photo: Revelstoke’s Grizzly Plaza covered in snow in January 2020. Photo: Aaron Orlando/Revelstoke Mountaineer Magazine

The city is planning to overhaul Grizzly Plaza. The general plan is to improve its current functionality, with the aim of making it better for live performances and pedestrian flow.

A concept for the new roadway in Grizzly Plaza proposes a narrower road level with the sidewalk area. Photo: City of Revelstoke image

As part of the plan, the city is looking to realign the roadway to make it smaller, and also level the plaza and roadway.

A new bandstand is in the works, designed to ameliorate some of the issues with poor sound and an awkward interface with the crowd. They hope the new design will allow for more events.

The city is also planning to redo the seating in the plaza, including new permanent seating and temporary seating.

A concept panel of possible new furniture design for Grizzly Plaza. Photo: City of Revelstoke handout

The heritage lights installed in the late 1980s are also up for discussion, as plans call for new lights that emit less light pollution.

The planters at the corner of First Street and Mackenzie Avenue are also on the chopping block, as they are considered to create a barrier between the plaza and the rest of the downtown core.

The city also hopes to improve accessibility during the renovation project.

The costs of the plaza renovation project hasn’t been defined that we’re aware of, and the city says it plans to engage residents on the plans in the future. Likewise, the timeline for the project hasn’t been clearly defined yet. For more design concept details, see this report from January 2021.

The request to place the Isabel Coursier statue in the plaza goes before council on Sept. 14, 2021.