Courage and perseverance have a magical talisman, before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish into air.
- John Quincy Adams
Imagine a 13-year old kid so enthralled with ski racing that he manages to convince his parents to leave their comfortable Vancouver lifestyle behind and move up to Whistler full-time. Picture that kid spending every second of his spare time on the hill, training, skiing, bashing gates — doing whatever it takes — to become an elite ski racer. Watch him subsume everything else in his life to that one goal. Everything.
"That's pretty much how it was for me," says 32-year old Jamie Finlayson. And then he laughs. "We moved up to Whistler full-time in 1993. My younger sister, Heather wasn't so excited about living in the mountains. But she eventually..." He pauses in mid-thought. Takes a long breath. "You know," he says, "I can't thank my parents enough for what they did for me back then. They made huge sacrifices to make my dreams come true. They really made it happen for me."
But it's not like the family wasn't already deeply connected to the place. "Whistler always played a big part in our lives," says Finlayson. "I mean, I have pictures of me in a rucksack on my dad's back — with the unfinished village in the background..."
So why ski racing? "I'm not really sure," he answers. "I guess it just comes down to being allowed to go as fast as you possibly can in a controlled environment." He shrugs. "Even as a little kid, I was ski racing's number one fan." He laughs. "I remember watching the Calgary Olympics in 1988 and deciding right there: 'That's what I want to do.' Funny, eh? I was only eight years old..."
Still, coming up to ski on weekends was one thing. But living up here permanently? "Our timing was really good," says Jamie. "Ski racing was very popular in those days and the Whistler club was really strong. As a matter of fact, a number of other WMSC families moved up here full-time around the same time we did. He smiles again. "And for me, it was so exciting. Skiing was such a big part of my life in those days. Being up here meant that I could ski and train to my heart's content."
And he wasn't alone. "We had a really competitive group of skiers in those days. Britt Janyk, Jeff Hume, Travis Williams, Paul Boskovich — everyone in the group was super competitive." He lets out a happy laugh. "I mean, everything we did turned into a contest. We'd even fight to see who would be the he first one on the course."
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