February 19, 2010 Features & Images » Feature Story

Walking the talk 

Whistler athletes represent in Whistler style


"Olympism is a philosophy of life, exalting and combining in a balanced whole the qualities of body, will and mind."

- From The Olympic Charter


The honour list of athletes runs deep here. Dag Aabye, Jim McConkey, Nancy Greene, Dave Murray, Stephanie Sloan, Rob Boyd, Chris Kent, Bobby Allison, Eric Pehota, Trevor Petersen, John Smart, Wendy Brookbank, Hugo Harrison, Ross Rebagliati, Mike Douglas, Darren Chalmers, Aleisha Cline, Maëlle Ricker, Rob Fagan, Mercedes Nicoll, Justin Lamoureux, Crispin Lipscomb, Davey Barr, Ashley McIvor, Julia Murray, Michael Janyk, Britt Janyk, Manuel Osborne-Paradis, Robbie Dixon, Kristi Richards, Mark Abma, Kye Petersen. OOF. And that's just skimming the surface; this list could go on forever. But you get the point.

The performance bar has always been set high at Whistler, ask anyone. Whether dropping into a fresh line of thigh-deep powder or chasing down a puck at the local hockey rink; whether lofting off an impossibly big hit at the bike park or suffering a gut-busting mountain run over three summits and five climate zones - newcomers had better be on top of their game if they plan to make an impression here.

Know what I mean? Posing is not an option at Whistler. Sure, there are posers around. Like any other town that boasts this kind of top-gun reputation, the wannabes flock to this valley like seagulls after a garbage barge. But nobody pays them any attention. Why? Because there are more high performance athletes per capita here than anywhere else in this sport-forsaken country.

No joke. The guy fitting your boots this morning? He's the defending North American freeskiing champion. The gal serving you dinner last night? She won the national cross-country MTB crown last year. The kid bagging your groceries? Just happens to be the top junior ski racer in the country right now. Oh yeah, and that old guy you saw teaching skiing yesterday? His grandson is a World Cup downhill champion with a good chance at Olympic gold.

And they come from everywhere. From Ontario and Quebec and New Brunswick and Manitoba. From France and England and Australia and Japan. They come with dreams of greatness and hopes of success (either that or they're riding their fame into town and hoping for the best). Some already have impressive resumes; others aim to create their own. It's a cacophony of aspirations. A jumble sale of inspiration.

But rich or poor, male or female, talented or talentless - it doesn't really matter. Everyone who comes here gets schooled by the environment.

It's part of their learning curve. Their Whistler Icarus moment if you will; the "oh-no" instant when newcomers realize just how far they can push it in these mountains before disaster strikes.

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