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It was love at first smack. And it all started from there, in a creative partnership that went on to define steeps camp guiding in Whistler. The chance incident sparked not only a lasting partnership between Dunnigan and Smart — hitched ski bums of the highest order — but the founding of Extremely Canadian.
But it didn't all roll out right away. That summer, now smitten, Dunnigan and Smart decided to get their Lives™ in order, and so packed up and headed down to the city. It didn't work out. While Smart was supportive of Dunnigan's drive toward dentistry, her Dad, the dentist par excellence, wasn't. "You guys have got to back to the mountains," said Dunnigan's Dad. "You're like caged animals down here."
And so they did. Dunnigan recalls her Dad laying down the life-advice: "You can live to have a lifestyle, or you can live the lifestyle," he said. He was doing the former, fixing up teeth so he could ski; but Dunnigan, he figured, could just get on with the real business, sans the bad breath and fillings.
So it was that summer that Smart, who had arrived in Whistler in 1991, got his daydream on. He had a radical, no extreme — dude — idea: provide Canadian-led steeps camps that showcase the Coast mountains. And this came about because he had been invited to ski in a few Warren Miller flicks; and he quickly realized that the stars of the mostly American extreme skiing pantheon were just about as good as the cats he knew ripping around Whistler.
Smart had ditched Ski Esprit to appear in Warren Miller's Black Diamond Rush, undertaking ridiculous stunts in a sumo suit, which also starred World Extreme Skiing Champion and Whistler resident Wendy Brookbank. Wendy, who at age 20 was hucking her meat on skinnies — which is to say, sending massive cliffs on 200cm+ toothpick skis — had been discovered by Glen Plake. She appeared in close to a dozen Miller flicks and went on to become one of Extremely Canadian's first ski coaches — in fact, she's still throwing it down today. Smart's ski celluloid would continue with the Miller flick Vertical Reality; his latest film stunts include Hot Tub Time Machine.
Dunnigan says it was Smart who threw down the gauntlet when he realized that local talent could provide a unique steeps-camp experience not only here in Whistler, but worldwide.
"Peter said that we should be showing what Whistler and Blackcomb have to offer," says Dunnigan. At the time, Warren Miller skiers Eric and Rob DesLauriers and Siamese twins Dan and John Egan were coming up to Canada to teach steep skiing camps in Whistler. So, Dunnigan says, "Peter was like 'This is ridiculous — sure they're good skiers but there's tons of good skiers in Whistler'." It was put up or shut up night, as Smart recalls, throwing down the fateful words of maple syrup challenge: "'Why aren't there any Canadians doing this?'"
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