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Nicoll chats with Whistler kids for podcast

Four-time Olympic snowboarder delves into growing up in a resort town
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Olympic snowboarder Mercedes Nicoll is hosting the Dropping In podcast where she interviews guests with varied backgrounds. Photo courtesy of Canada Snowboard

Mercedes Nicoll  is well aware of the Whistler bubble, so much so that the second season of her Dropping In podcast comprises of 10 episodes of interviews with people who, like her, grew up in the mountain resort.

Nicoll, a four-time Olympian as a snowboarder, wanted a diverse array of guests, so while Dropping In features athletes like ski-cross gold medallist Marielle Thompson and pro skier Stan Rey, it also hears from DJ Nathalie Morel, musician Willa Milner, actress Jenna Romanin and environmentalist Irie Smith.

“In Whistler, we always talk about the athletes and the Olympians and the bikers, but I wanted to show that there’s more than that out of Whistler, that grew up out of Whistler that’s actually been very successful,” Nicoll said.

While many of this season’s subjects are from Nicoll’s generation (she turned 37 on Dec. 5), she included episodes with Whistler Secondary School teachers Mitch Sulkers and Brenda Norrie, as well as the 19-year-old Smith, who lived waste-free for a year (“Waste not, want not,” Jan. 11, 2019).

“I was just intrigued with [her] when I saw her article in the paper,” Nicoll said. “I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, I can learn so much more from her.’”

While many of the subjects didn’t pursue athletics at an elite level, sport was very much part of their lives growing up in the mountain town.

“The big takeaway is that sport did play a role in their lives to make them successful, and determined and passionate,” Nicoll said.

Having the opportunity to compare and contrast experiences with her guests led Nicoll to record her own episode to debrief with the audience, in a way. Guests cited everything from freedom, competitive nature, working with happy and passionate people, enjoying a challenge, and growing alongside one’s idols as the impetus for their achievements.

“I don’t know what makes Whistler kids so successful, and that’s why I wanted to do this series. I know so many successful Whistler kids, and I thought, ‘Let’s just get to the bottom of this.’ It’s been so interesting to see that every person I talk to has something different,” Nicoll said. “I was able to listen to all those stories, get an understanding and put it all together in the end.”

There was the odd element that Nicoll didn’t recognize in her own experience, such as when Garnet Bird (formerly Garnet Clare) of hip-hop group Animal Nation shared how competitive athletes were in regard to measuring themselves against one another, which was a different tack than she took herself.

“I didn’t realize how much people look up to each other in high school,” she said. “I was competing and just trying to be the best I could be in snowboarding.”

Looking ahead, Nicoll hopes to complete a series of interviews with past, current and potential Canadian Olympians for Season 3. It would jive well with the present plan to hold the Summer Games in 2021 and the Winter Games in 2022.

“I’m hoping to piggyback a bit on that, do some interesting interviews, and give the listeners insight that they might not know about, a bit of an inside scoop about the Olympics,” she said.

To tune in, head to droppinginwithmercedes.weebly.com or search Dropping In with Mercedes Nicoll on Apple Podcasts or Google Podcasts.