Settling down in Whistler 

Tom Pro brings his family to the mountains

click to enlarge Tom Prochazka
  • Tom Prochazka

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In 2001 the bike park manager job at Whistler-Blackcomb became vacant. Tom applied for the job... and got it. "Rob McSkimming was the general manager of the bike park," he explains, "and he knew how passionate I was about the sport." He pauses. Smiles. "And given my work with the Dave Murray camps, he also knew that I wasn't a rookie in the Whistler Blackcomb (WB) way of doing things."

So they struck up a deal. Tom agreed to supervise a team of bike park builders and WB agreed to give him a free reign in managing his team. And it worked beyond everybody's wildest dreams. "You have to remember," he says, "that very few people ever believed the bike-park thing would work back then. But we proved them wrong. We were successful — and that's because our 'formula' came from the heart. We really believed in what we were doing. That, and our understanding of the ski business made for a very potent combo."

And, oh by the way, he adds, they built a pretty cool bike park. "It was a real team effort," says Pro. "Everybody pulled their weight."

It didn't take long for the world to pick up on the team's success. "I started noticing that I was spending a lot of my time showing foreigners around the park," says Pro. "That's when I began to realize that there was nobody else out there doing what we were doing. So we started talking about it amongst ourselves. 'We should start a consulting company,' somebody said. 'Yeah', said another, 'we should show the world how to build a bike park.'" He laughs. "And that, pretty much, is how Gravity Logic was launched."

And he laughs some more. "It's amazing to think now how little we knew about trail building before we left Whistler. I mean, you have to leave your backyard to discover these things. And we discovered so much..." He's still laughing. "Like, for example, just how challenging trail-building is in other places around the word." He stops to catch his breath. "Funny too how things turn out. We're now considered experts on working with the US Forest Service. I barely knew what the Forest Service did ten years ago..."

Back up a bit. So Gravity Logic was launched in 2005 as a new WB venture. But didn't it hit rough waters quite early? "For sure," says Pro. "When Fortress bought Intrawest in 2006, they soon realized that Gravity Logic made less profit than their smallest coffee shop. So they decided to get rid of it. That's when I said: 'I'll buy it!' There were four of us involved in the company at the time: me and Dave Kelly, and two WB guys, Jeremy Roche and Rob McSkimming. But Rob and Jeremy had dream job with WB and couldn't be involved in both companies. So Dave and I — and new partner Rob Cocquyt — bought Gravity Logic for ourselves."

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