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Robert Joncas – Making the Olympic move west

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"I'm a bit of a gear head," admits the always-up 45 year old. "I'm also a good communicator; a good strategist. That's why they've put me in charge of all these 'top secret' projects. For me, it's a dream position." Another big smile. "It's not always easy. And it's rarely simple. But the challenges of the job really suit my temperament. I can't imagine doing anything else more fulfilling right now with my life..."

With the national snowboard team training on the Whistler Glacier last week, I took the opportunity of his presence in the valley to catch up with my old friend and find out how life was treating him these days. The last time we'd crossed paths Robert was still living in Quebec. But things had changed considerably since then....

Last August, Joncas recounts, his family - his wife Claude, and their two teen-aged children, Frederique and David - had made the life-changing decision to move west. "I really had no choice," he explains. "I'm a team guy. And the team needed me here." Still, the Joncas clan didn't make the move without seriously considering the consequences.

"We looked at it from every angle," says Robert. "And I can tell you it wasn't a last-minute 'let's go' decision." Which is no surprise. With a comfortable home - and a well-established, active lifestyle - at the base of Mont Bromont in Quebec's Eastern Townships, the Joncas family had much to lose by moving to the west coast. But in the end, says Robert (known to his friends as l'Bob), "the combination of Olympics, mountains, the chance to learn English, even the Pacific Ocean - it was just too great an opportunity to pass on." A pause. "I wanted my family to live the full B.C. experience - even if it was just for a year or two. To me, it was all about broadening our cultural horizons."

But once the Joncas tribe decided to make the plunge, the next decision was even harder. Says Robert: "Where do we move to? Whistler? Squamish? The North Shore? At first, we didn't have a clue." They eventually decided to rent a house in North Vancouver. It was a decision based on short-term practicalities (the Canadian Snowboard Federation offices, for one, were in nearby West Van). After all, the move was only supposed to last for a couple of years at most. At least, that was the plan...

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