February 19, 2010 Features & Images » Feature Story

Walking the talk 

Whistler athletes represent in Whistler style

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The mid-80s was a time of tremendous growth at Whistler. Murray and his wife, Stephanie Sloan, a former winner of the World Freestyle Ski Championships, rode the wave like everyone else in town. Murray's adult racing programs flourished, bringing new sponsors flocking to the sport (just as he had predicted). He became more involved - and more comfortable - as a Whistler spokesman and was touted by some as a potential mayoral candidate for the resort-municipality. It looked at the time as if there were little he couldn't accomplish.

But all of that changed when he was diagnosed with cancer.

Although he'd spent much of his last 20 years on the public stage, Murray was an intensely private man, and chose to fight his final battles far from prying eyes. He was in and out of hospitals for months. Prodded, poked and operated on. Yet through it all, Murray bore his burden with grace and dignity. He even managed a few windsurfing trips between hospital stays. When he passed away on Oct. 23, 1990, he was only 36 years old. His daughter, Julia, was still in diapers. Whistler is a sadder place without him.

 

Local kid captures gold in his backyard

He's lived his entire adult life in the shadow of Whistler Mountain. Literally. From local racer boy to downhill hero, from free-spirited adrenaline hound to doting father and World Cup coach, Rob Boyd's story is inextricably bound to the story of the mountain resort with which he shares a birthday.

And somehow that's fitting too. For though he wasn't born in this valley - he moved here in 1982 - Boyd is still considered a shining example of that first generation of homegrown kids to put Whistler on the global sports map. "I think this place had a lot to do with my success," he says. "I always knew where I came from. I always felt very proud to tell people I was a Whistlerite..."

Let's reel back time for a moment - all the way back to March of 1989 to be precise. The Canadian downhill team was in one of its periodic slumps back then. Nothing was going right for the Canuck racers. The recent World Championships at Vail had been disastrous. Frontrunner Brian Stemmle was still in the hospital fighting for his life after a horrific fall in Kitzbuehel. As for the Canadian coaches, they were already preparing their resumes to send to other teams.

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