Searching for soul — will the real Whistler please stand up 

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I admit it. I've been biting my tongue of late. I know. It's not what you've come to expect of me. But I thought I'd give it a try for a while. Instead of getting all riled up over the usual shenanigans in Whistler's Halls of Power™, I've tried to inspire myself from the people I write about.

Like Sarah Jennings and her stirring tales of political engagement. Or Finn Saarinen and his sidesplitting riffs on Whistler in the dark ages. Whether it's Lisa Korthal's mountain adventures or Eric Pehota's, Arne Gutman's views on art or Penny Eder Martin's, doesn't really matter. This coastal corridor is chock-a-block full of soulful, outgoing people who are living and working here for all the right reasons.

Still, I can only take so much. I've been docile too long. Here are a few mountain community issues that have been picking away at me:

From the "Get Over It" file The sanctimonious hand wringing over Whistler's inability to convince ESPN to grant the resort an X-Games franchise for a late-spring TV show about what is essentially a winter event continues to mystify me. Indeed, it demonstrates once again how poorly the denizens in our Halls of Power™ really understand modern media. ESPN, as we all know, is an American network that produces and promotes everything from bass fishing to cage fighting for a (largely) sedentary TV-viewing audience. By the time April comes along, winter is the last thing its viewers want to be reminded of. Much better for ESPN to bet on Brazil and the skimpy bathing suits on Copacabana Beach than Whistler and the risk of a rainy afternoon shooting village life under plastic ponchos...

But it goes much further than that (doesn't it always?). I mean this little faux-step shows me once again how little the people in our HoP™ have integrated the lessons that a young ski pro offered us so many years ago. By defying the odds and producing a highly user-friendly end-of-season party, Doug Perry showed what could happen in Whistler when you combine great salesmanship with a thorough understanding of mountain culture.

His secret? The original Ski and Snowboard Festival was never about trying to reach a mainstream audience. From the very beginning, it was all about gathering the various snowplay tribes together for a year-ending bash that would celebrate all that was edgy and fun and crazy and twisted and happy and irreverent about their world. Leave your tribal prejudices behind, played pied piper Perry, come to Whistler for ten days and share in the global snow buzz. The underlying theme was "participation" — and everyone was welcome: skiers, snowboarders, racers, instructors, photographers, filmmakers, models, wannabe's... whatever. As long as you played some kind of role in the ski/snowboard culture/business/lifestyle continuum, there was something relevant for you at the festival. Essentially, this was the Big Kahuna of season-ending mountain fiestas.


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