Living the Whistler dream at 84 

Despite the rain falling all the way to the Roundhouse, despite the icy runs keeping the health centre busy, despite the less than stellar season at Whistler-Blackcomb, George Huxtable has been living the Whistler dream.

The 84-year-old local resident skied every single day in January and on Saturday night at Merlin’s he was presented with a Living the Dream prize pack from Can-Ski/Showcase Snowboards.

He got an enthusiastic round of applause from the crowd, most of whom were probably wishing they could be living the dream just like Huxtable.

Settling into a chair at Merlin’s, listening to apres legend Guitar Doug sing about a trip to Kamloops, Huxtable points to his glass.

Glenfiddich he says is the golden secret to his prowess on the mountains.

But in addition to that powerful malt whiskey, he says he doesn’t chase any women, and that helps too.

"I can’t catch them anyway," he said with a cheeky wink.

Huxtable has been coming to Whistler since 1972, ever since his son Gordon moved here from their hometown of Barrie, Ontario.

He moved here permanently three seasons ago and since then he has been spending almost every day, both in the summer and winter, travelling up the gondolas, in all kinds of weather.

In the winter he’s usually on the Emerald Chair or heading down his favourite run, which is Burnt Stew to Sidewinder to the Olympic Station, when the tourists are having their lunch. On the days when it’s socked in or windy, he can usually be found at the Roundhouse having a fortifying drink.

"He is apres!" said Gordon.

In the summer Huxtable is up on Whistler hiking around with his eyes trained to the skies above. As soon as the clouds are right he’s on his way to Pemberton to enjoy his other passion as one of the 800 glider pilots in Canada, soaring over Mount Currie and the Pemberton Valley below.

Both sports were honed back in Ontario throughout his life.

He recalls his first pair of skis, which were made by his grandfather when he was just a young boy. He started getting serious about skiing in his early teens and later passed on his passion to his children and many other families in the Barrie area, which is 45 minutes north of Toronto.

For more than 30 years Huxtable was director of the ski school at a small Barrie ski hill called Snow Valley, where many a young kid from Toronto learned to ski.

It was a small family-run operation so in addition to ski school he also helped out around the hill, tinkering with chair lifts and doing odd jobs. He owned a tool and die shop by trade so he was always good with his hands and more importantly, he was always willing to give a hand, said his son.

One of the hill’s biggest runs at 285 feet has since been named Huxtable’s Folly. His son Gordon said to bear in mind that Snow Valley has a vertical drop of about 300 feet.

It was also at Snow Valley where he met another Whistler legend, Jim McConkey who was also from Barrie.

Huxtable says he has never missed a winter skiing, even when he tore his Achilles tendon 35 years ago.

He had planned a ski trip to Austria at that time and was not to be dissuaded from the slopes by a mere cast.

So he picked up a pair of outriggers – poles with small skis used for balance by many adaptive skiers – and hit the Austrian slopes.

If he keeps up his current pace, Huxtable could be in the running for Whistler-Blackcomb’s grand prize of a ski or snowboard package for riding the most all season.

It’s probably the fact that he knows he’s living the ultimate Whistler dream better than any young ski bum in town that keeps that smile on his face and that twinkle in his eye.


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