"I'm just so happy to be here. So excited to wake up in these beautiful mountains every morning. I'm living in Whistler. Yippee! Can't wait for the snow to fly."
New Whistler resident, Meredith Gardner
She was one of Canada's classiest competitors. Twice crowned world champion in freestyle aerials - and a longstanding master in the combined discipline of ski ballet, aerials and moguls - the Ontario athlete did much to popularize her sport for Canadian fans in the fast-moving 1980's. But she had a lot more going than simply being the first (and only) Canadian woman to complete a triple flip on skis. With her girl-next-door good looks and cheeky wit, Meredith Gardner represented all that was exciting and fun and attractive about Canada's burgeoning ski community. She was the real thing.
"I started skiing when I was eight," explains Gardner. "Got into competition when I was twelve." She laughs. "I spent one year making a serious bid at ski racing but it was cold and uber-competitive."
It just so happened that future ski-media mogul Chris Robinson also skied at Talisman in those days. Recalls Gardner: "He and his buddies were wearing these cool bright orange and yellow shiny lycra suits and doing these awesome tricks like worm turns and legbreakers." Wait for it. "They called it 'freestyle skiing,'" she continues with a straight face. "And I was intrigued."
So Meredith decided to try it out. "I signed up for a camp run by a woman freestyler by the name of Renée Smith," she says. And that was all it took. "I still remember looking at Renée and thinking: 'if she can do it, then I can too.' Then and there I decided I was going to be a World Cup skier."
Her years on the World Cup circuit taught her much. "Freestyle skiing was a very new sport back then," she explains. "There was a lot to learn." As for income, forget about it. There was no money. That all went to the alpine skiers. Pa-dump-pump.
Seriously though, Meredith says she was profoundly touched by her years of international competition. So much so, that when she retired, she could never fully execute her exit plan to become a journalist in the real world. She stuck it out for ten years - first as a weather girl, then entertainment anchor, news reporter and finally sports producer. And it was a good life. Still, she wasn't fully satisfied. There was still one dream that hadn't come true for her. She wanted to live in Whistler.
"Growing up in Ontario - skiing on small hills - nothing prepares you for the mountains of the west," she says. "I think I fell in love with Whistler the very first time I came here. And I've been dreaming of living her ever since..."
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