Opinion » Alta States

Settling down in Whistler

Tom Pro brings his family to the mountains



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"It happened all in one day," asserts Tom. "That was May 14th, 1991. On the same day our son was born, I sold my Harley, sold our North Van house and bought a home for us in Whistler."

Say what? "It's true," he says. "I started thinking about raising a family — and what kind of environment I wanted my kids to grow up in." A pause. "So I asked myself: 'If I were a kid, where would I want to grow up?'" He laughs. "The answer was pretty evident. Whistler won hands-down. And even if we had to sacrifice a few things to move up here, it was worth it."

But selling the Harley? "It wasn't really that bad," he says. And laughs. "My father-in-law offered to help me out so I could keep it. But I said no. It was time to move on..."

Tom has never been afraid of hard work. He spent four summers — from '88-92 — crewing on commercial fishing boats off the West Coast of BC. "I started on a Haida boat," he says. "And then I moved to Mitch Ponak's seiner Argent Fisher. That was a great crew – everyone on the boat was a skier."

And it was good money too. But being away from home all summer didn't really fit with being a new dad. "So I looked around for something local, and ended up taking a job operating Glen Lynskey's lumber mill," he says. And smiles nostalgically. "I was Tom Sawyer for ten years. That was the best summer job I ever had..."

But his winter job wasn't so bad either. Turns out, Pro really liked teaching skiing to adults... and adults really liked being coached by Pro. He never got too complicated, or overly-technical with his charges. Never got too carried away with his own words. An adherent of the KISS (keep it simple, stupid) principle, Pro demystified ski racing for a whole generation of born-again Alberto-Tombas. He made it fun. Accessible. Social even. And people responded in kind.

By the winter of 1996, Pro had risen through the Dave Murray Camp ranks until he was managing the whole shebang himself. "I was program supervisor from '96 until 2007," he tells me proudly. "We had a great team in those years. And some truly outstanding campers. It was a lot of fun..."

Like many Whistlerites, Pro came to Whistler for the skiing... and stayed for the biking. A lifelong aficionado of two-wheeled adventures, he quickly became enthralled to the unique pleasures of all-terrain cycling in Sea to Sky country. Soon he was as proficient on his bike as he was on his skis. And another door opened.

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