Opinion » Alta States

Alta States

Keeping the dream alive

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The learning curve was steep, and the job was emotionally demanding, By the fall of 1999, she was ready for a sabbatical. Never one to choose the easy path, Sue somehow managed to get hired on a sailboat travelling from Mexico to Hawaii. “That was quite an adventure,” she says. The return trip landed her in Seattle. And though her thirst for sailing hadn’t yet been slaked — “I was planning to jump back on a boat that was travelling down the West Coast and through the Panama Canal” — she decided to visit a friend in Whistler. “And then I just found myself living here and looking for a job…”

Her first impressions: “I totally loved it,” says the born-again snowboarder. “I’ve always been into sports. I was already a skier — albeit a Southern Ontario skier — and I loved being outdoors in wintertime. So the mountains here really, certainly spoke to me. But it was more than that. To me, Whistler’s special charm is its unique combination of natural beauty and real people. And that combination totally seduced me.”

Slowly but surely, her plans began to change. “After only one season here, travel and law school seemed a whole lot less attractive to me. I found myself thinking that maybe I’d finally found the place where I wanted to settle down.”

Her first job was working as a ticket validator for Whistler-Blackcomb. But though she liked her job well enough, she was far more taken by her volunteer work with the WSSF. “It looked like such a great event that I went right into their offices and offered them my services,” she says. At first, they gave her something menial to do. But in typical Eckersley fashion, she quickly made herself indispensable. She still smiles at the memory. “After working with the team for three days, I said: ‘See you later — gotta go back to my real job now.’ And they said: ‘What do you mean? Aren’t you working for us?’”

The next year, she got a three-month contract with the WSSF team. The year after that, they upped it to five months. Soon she was Doug Perry’s designated go-to gal. “I’m a pretty straightforward person,” she explains. “I’m a realist. I look for solutions not problems. I can identify things that will work — and figure out how to get them to work.” Another smile. “I’m not all that familiar with the sentence ‘It can’t be done.’ I’m kind of like a terrier that way. Once I get hold of something I’m not going to let go until I figure out how to make it work.”

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