Settling down in Whistler 

Tom Pro brings his family to the mountains

click to enlarge Tom Prochazka
  • Tom Prochazka

"Home is where the heart is"

- Traditional

It's not like he was a stranger or anything. The place had worked its fascination on him since he'd discovered it as a teen-aged racer in the late 1960s. The mountains, the snow — the people, the culture, the endless list of potential adventures — Whistler boasted everything he most cherished in life. But it wasn't yet his home. He was too busy gallivanting around the world for that.

Besides, Pro was having the ride of his life racing those monster-long boards of his straight down the hill for fame and... well, if not for fortune, then for a heck of a good time. Settling down came when you got old, thought the speedskier, there'd be lots of time for that later...

But that was in 1988. And back then Pro was busy creating the perfect single-guy, pro-athlete dude lifestyle. You know, Harley Davidson in the garage, frequent flyer cards in his wallet and a travel-bag that never gets unpacked (except for laundry day of course). And it suited him — given his particular talents, going fast for a living seemed like a natural fit. No wonder he was always smiling.

And then he blew his knee out while forerunning a World Cup downhill. "And that was that," says Tom. The timing couldn't have been worse. And for some, the injury would have been a devastating blow. But Pro seems to have taken it in stride. "Sure, it was disappointing. But for me, it was clear. Time to grow up and get a real job."

Well, sort of a real job. His old racing buddy, Dave Murray, was the director of skiing at Whistler Mountain. And he needed coaches for the booming adult racing program he'd recently launched. "Mur had mentioned it to me before," says Pro, "so after my knee injury I approached him about it..." He stops. Takes a deep breath. "And in true Murray fashion he just said: 'Get your Level II instructors and let's go!'" He smiles. "So that's how the whole Whistler thing began."

But there's more. "I haven't thought about this in a while," he continues, "but once I started coaching at the Murray camps, Dave started really working on me. 'You should move up to Whistler full-time,' he'd say, 'you'll like it here...' And he just wouldn't let it go."

He shrugs. Laughs. "Fitting, eh. Mur gave me the job that got me to Whistler, and then he talked me into becoming a full-time resident here."

More laughter. "A few things happened in-between though," he admits. Like marrying his long-time sweetheart — Claire Thornthwaite — in 1989. But the real shift came with the birth of their first child. That's when everything changed.

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