Alta states 

Peter Ladner: Sometimes nice guys do finish first

click to enlarge Peter Ladner
  • Peter Ladner

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He may look harmless. He may have the demeanour of a well-meaning pastor. Or an earnest choir master even. But as an athlete he has few peers. Blessed with a great ticker and a light touch on his feet, Pete is one of those guys who seems to do well in just about any sporting endeavour he undertakes.

But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t pay the price for his sporting enthusiasm sometimes.

Just last winter I ran into Pete in the forest on Whistler Mountain’s west side. His face looked like he’d just done a head dip on cement — there was scraped skin from the bridge of his nose all the way down to his chin. It looked terminally painful. Turns out he’d had a bit of a crash on his skis. “Went over the handlebars,” he admitted ruefully. “And my glasses kind of got caught between the ground and my face.” The scabs from that fall, I knew, would be with him for the next few weeks at least. And I remember thinking: how refreshing to see a big-city politician who is still willing to play hard on the mountain — regardless of the photo-op consequences.

Now I can already hear some of you tsk-tsking about risk-taking and bad examples and irresponsible behaviour. Go ahead. As far as I’m concerned, good leaders have to be comfortable with taking risks. That’s what makes them effective leaders, for gawd’s sake. And while Peter is certainly no extreme-sport junkie — at least not when you compare him to his children — I’m thrilled that we have a leadership candidate in Vancouver who actually loves mountain adventures the way he does.

And it’s a love affair that’s been going on for a while. “When you told me you were going to do this story I immediately thought back to one of the first summers I spent up here,” he says. “It must have been the summer of 1968 — maybe ’69. I was a supervisor on a youth group clearing the trails from Taylor Creek to Black Tusk Meadows — including the ones around Garibaldi Lake.” He smiles at the memories. “It was amazing, you know. We lived in the cabins up there. So the whole area became our playground. We explored every corner of it…”

But his initiation to trekking the local high country dates from even before that. “It was the summer of 1966,” he recalls. “The headmaster of the school I was attending decided he’d introduce this new program to his students. It was called The Duke of Edinburgh Award.” He chuckles. “You know, kind of a Boy Scout thing on steroids. Outdoor adventure and leadership training, only stepped up a notch…”

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