Douglas, WB part ways 

Legendary local's contract not renewed after Vail Resorts' takeover

click to enlarge FILE PHOTO - NEW PATH Mike Douglas and Whistler Blackcomb have parted ways after 20 years.
  • File photo
  • NEW PATH Mike Douglas and Whistler Blackcomb have parted ways after 20 years.

First on skis and then behind the camera lens, Mike Douglas has had a massive role in helping Whistler earn its reputation as a powder paradise.

A significant portion of those efforts came through Douglas' work with Whistler Blackcomb (WB), as the godfather of freeskiing and Whistler's favourite resident beautifully encapsulated the on-mountain experience. However, after WB's purchase by Vail Resorts, the company opted against renewing Douglas' contract this summer.

Douglas, whose company Switchback Entertainment produced 50 Years of Going Beyond to mark WB's milestone anniversary and the Big Picture series analyzing issues facing the ski industry, said he wasn't surprised with the move and appreciates the chance to take on new challenges.

"It's no surprise, really. The new ownership of Whistler Blackcomb has changed the strategy of how they work and changed the whole structure of the company on the inside. Given the new structure, they didn't see the need to have a person like me involved anymore," he said in an Oct. 2 interview. "I have a lot of friends that work at other Vail Resorts (operations) and I understand the style of business that they do and it's quite different than what's been done in the past.

"I would have been more surprised if they had kept me on, to be honest."

With Switchback, Douglas will continue to work with primary sponsor Salomon making films and working as an ambassador and product developer. He had plans to head to France on Oct. 4 to work on another project with them.

"The Whistler Blackcomb contract was definitely an important part of the structure of my personal business, but it wasn't the only part," he said. "But locally, I don't know. There's a big part of me that's excited by having the opportunity to pursue something new or different.

"It's certainly different, but I'm not a person that's particularly afraid of change. Usually, out of adversity comes new and exciting things."

For now, Douglas plans to remain based in Whistler with his family, but in the long term is open to living elsewhere as busyness, traffic and high housing prices affect quality of life in the resort.

"I've got pretty deep roots here now and I really love this community. It's really the people for me that make Whistler what it is and if the community can stay intact and keep the great vibe here that it's had since I arrived in '88, I'll be happy to stay," he said.

"But if things start changing, then, yeah..." he trailed off. "I think a lot of people in the municipality would say the same thing right now."

Douglas' first paid contract with WB was as an athlete, with a number of iterations while he was in a marketing role as ambassador, and for the last 15 years he has been a marketing consultant.

"It lasted a lot longer than I thought it would," sais Douglas. "As sad as I am to see it end, I have to look back and go 'Wow, I can't believe it went as far as it did,'" Douglas said, adding his fondest memories weren't associated with any specific projects, but the people that he met on the job.

In a statement, Vail Resorts-Whistler Blackcomb wished Douglas well.

"For over (20) years Mike Douglas has been a part of the Whistler Blackcomb family. Our contract with Mike ended on July 31, 2017, and moving forward we have chosen to go in a different direction with our marketing efforts. We are grateful for Mike's contributions to Whistler Blackcomb and the Whistler community. We remain big fans of Mike and look forward to seeing the contributions he'll make to the ski industry and the community in the future," the statement read.

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