April 18, 2013 Features & Images » Feature Story

Dave Murray ski camps 

Ski coaching lives on — thirty years and going strong

click to flip through (4) PHOTOS BY VINCE SHULEY. - Dave Murray
  • Photos by Vince Shuley.
  • Dave Murray

The crowd stands shoulder to shoulder in Dusty's.

Conversation ebbs and flows as it does so often here – but in this case it has a common theme.

Those gathered are here to remember and celebrate Dave Murray — a name that not only conjures up memories of the days of the Crazy Canucks and the kamikaze flair they brought to the alpine World Cup circuit in the 70s — it's a name that has become synonymous with top ski coaching, giving back to the community and inspiration through passion.

With the final Dave Murray Ski Camp of the season drawing to a close coaches and campers — both past and present — have come to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the camps by drinking beer and swapping stories, just how Dave would have wanted it. They've come to celebrate the longest running camp of its kind in North America.

"I just think it's so cool how the legend of Dave is living on in so many different ways," says Julia Murray, Dave's daughter and retired ski cross champion at the gathering.

"Thirty years later that this many people still come and appreciate what he did for the sport and who he was as a person? It's really, really cool to see."

It's a legacy that deeply resonates with Murray's widow Stephanie Sloan, a three- time World Champion Freestyle skier.

"He's taught thousands of people to ski better," she said.

"David always said the best way to improve your skiing is to go through gates, and it's still true."

Scattered around the room are some of Whistler's legendary skiers — Chris Kent, Dave Traynor, power skiing couple Kim McKnight and Ken Pedersen. Mike Hurst, who worked as the vice-president of marketing for Whistler Mountain in the early '80s and helped get the camps off the ground, delivers a speech speaking fondly of his first experiences working with Dave and gifts a limited edition print of a hand drawn sketch of Whistler and Blackcomb mountains to guest Steve Jefferson, who has just completed his 100th camp.

"I saw him as the personification of the mountain," says Hurst, speaking of his first meetings with Murray.

"In the old days, Whistler was seen as a big old rugged mountain, the grooming wasn't the best, the food service wasn't the best, the attitude was that we're in the lift business not the ski business. What we were able to do with Dave was to move beyond that and start to engage people and start to get kids and regular Whistler skiers all tied in with Dave as the image of the mountain. He softened the image and made it personal.

"That's what I think his genius was. Not only his vision for the camps but his ability to engage people. The camps would always start with a session down at the base of the mountain and Dave would come and talk to people. Then at some point during the weekend of the camp, Dave would be sitting there, coaching people at the start gate then giving them a pat on the back and saying 'go for it!'"

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