March 02, 2007 Features & Images » Feature Story

It’s important to play outside - safely 

Justin Trudeau brings a particular message to Whistler

By Vivian Moreau

It’s impossible not to look for comparisons to his father. Sitting with Justin Trudeau in a corner of the Nicklaus North pro shop as he goes over notes prior to a speech at the Canadian Avalanche Foundation fundraiser last Friday I’m on the lookout for genetics. The square jaw and the curly hair he runs his hand through when pondering difficult questions is surely his mother’s but the presence and charm as he leans in to ask my name must be paternal. In a striped blue and white open-neck shirt, black jacket, jeans and brown leather boots he has his own sense of style. And although he’s 35 he still has boyish mannerisms: sitting at right angles to me, his long legs stretched out in front of him and addressing a spot on the floor he makes eye contact when he wants to make a point. And although he has just announced his intention to run as a Liberal in the federal Montreal riding of Papineau, the former schoolteacher won’t allow any political questions. He’s at the $175 a plate dinner in Whistler to deliver a cautionary tale.

I begin by asking him about his day on the mountains.

Trudeau: It’s nice to be able to ride up to Piccolo now. It was my first time on that chairlift so that was a real treat. Went up Symphony, I wanted to cover as much terrain as I possibly could, so we (he and Canadian Avalanche Foundation President Chris Stethem) started the morning with a ski down Flute shoulder, got a gorgeous line. Got first tracks down that at around 8:30 a.m. and then last run of the day was hiking across from the top of 7th and down back into the glacier.

Pique: What is your favourite run?

Trudeau: My favourite is a run I invented with a buddy of mine: Smiley’s run that starts up at top of 7th runs down through the trees skiers right of chair, drops down through some open patches and some steeps through the road down some glades of runs and along Sunset and down the entire skier’s left of the mountain. Just a non-stop on the right day… And today I was skiing. I was a snowboard instructor for five years and hadn’t been on skis in 20 years and I just started skiing again this year.

Pique: You were a snowboard instructor?

Trudeau: I spent five years up here working as a snowboard instructor, from age 25-30. At 25 I moved out here to be a ski bum for a bit, and lasted almost a season before I realized I needed to go back to school. I went to UBC and did my Bachelor of Education there. But through the entire time I was teaching high school in Vancouver I would come up here and be a weekend warrior and be teaching seven days a week and absolutely loving it, five days in classroom and two days on the hill. For me it was a huge part of my life.

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