First Person: Leslie Anthony 

The doctor is in

Leslie Anthony is one of Canada's premier ski writers and a self-described "professor of ski culture." His style of gonzo ski journalism has changed the way people perceive the world of skiing.

Anthony, a PhD in zoology, was managing editor at the influential Powder magazine during the mid-1990s and is trying to recreate that synergy in Canada with the newly released Skier magazine.

Anthony first visited Whistler in 1977 and moved here in December 1999. Pique Newsmagazine had a chance to sit down with the doctor and listen to his philosophical musings on Whistler, ski bums, trolley buses, writing, magazines and the state of the Canadian ski industry.

How did you end up in Whistler?

I was living in Banff and came to Whistler on a road trip in 1977. There was nothing here – just the Husky station – and I couldn't see anything. It was fogged in.

You have called Whistler the "centre of the ski universe." What do you mean by that?

Whistler's one of the few places you can find all the elements of ski culture coexisting relatively peacefully. There's the core dirtbag ski bum culture; the superstar pro skier-snowboarder deal; the Aspen-Sun Valley-Hollywood jet-set scene; and the middle-class family. I think that all these elements have a certain amount of respect for each other. Some people may not have such a clear sight of the importance of having ski bums living here. But it's very elemental and crucial to Whistler's success that it does have all these various milieus existing and that they're not hidden.

What's the difference between, say, Whistler and Banff?

Banff is grossly commercial in a cheesy souvenir kind of way. The main street is essentially a Western-facade town dressed up as a souvenir shop. But Whistler is in danger of becoming more like Banff if it doesn't watch itself. I've just started noticing the proliferation of cheese here in the last couple of years. The worst thing that I've seen is that trolley bus. That is the cheesiest thing ever. It looks like Disneyland and I think that cheapens the community.

Why did you get into ski writing?

I've always been a writer. Ever since I was a little kid I've been a reader and a writer. I was always better able to express myself through writing. I want to be able to paint a picture and have people see that picture with them in it. It's all about possibility.

What made Powder magazine such a special entity?

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