Alta states: Making it work 

Bob Styan’s life after ski racing

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Much has changed in the ski business in the intervening 20 years. But back in 1983, when Styan first took up with the beer giant, skiing was experiencing a surge in popularity that had lifestyle companies salivating at the thought of being involved with such a youthful and vital activity. And Bob was just the guy to make that connection happen.

"I had a van and a $100,000 budget," Styan tells me. "My job was to travel the province and develop grass-root events with people who supported our products." Another big smile. "I'm still pretty proud of what we got accomplished in those years," he says. "I mean, we created events that are still legendary today."

As in? "Well, I guess the most talked about event we ever did was a race we put on at Whistler. It was called 'Who's The Beef'." He laughs. "It was Larry McKee who came up with the original concept."

The idea was simple. Given that Whistler in springtime was something of a gathering place for Alpine Canada racers and alumni, McKee's idea was to organize a ski race where a gaggle of women formed teams to bid on individual male skiers (mostly former and current ACA members) to add to their numbers. Fastest team down the hill won.

Sounds fairly conventional so far. But McKee's twist was ingenious. For each auctioned ski racer had an orange Glad bag covering his body from head to waist. Only his legs and goggles were shown. "You can just imagine what went down during the auction," says Styan. "It was hilarious. And the women really got into it. It turned into one of the funnest parties of the year." A long easy chuckle. "And the race was fun too."

As fulfilling as the Labatt's job was for those three years, Styan wanted more. "It's like the old saying goes: 'nothing happens in this world until someone sells something.' I wanted to be a sales person. I wanted to sell stuff and make things happen."

And as usual, he succeeded - first as a ski-and-boot rep  ("it was a great way to develop my sales skills," he says) and finally as a real estate guy. "People are so quick to tell you how you can't do something," he explains. "That's what motivates me."

In 1992, Styan passed his B.C. real estate exam and went to work for Peter Dupuis who ran a Remax agency in New Westminster. He never looked back. "I just happened to be at the right place at the right time," he says. "I never imagined where it could lead me. But somehow it all worked out..."

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