Opinion » Alta States

Alta States

Keeping the dream alive



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And so began a relationship that Perry still calls one of the most vital in festival history. “Sue is an amazing person to work with,” he maintains. “She can go for days without sleep — and she won’t stop until she reaches her goal. But what really sets her apart is that Sue is a woman of total integrity!”

It’s that sense of integrity, continues Perry, that will protect the festival vision. As Eckersley says herself: “The WSSSF Board didn’t have to hire me. There were other solutions out there — and I think that most of them would have been easier to manage. My job, as I see it, is to champion the festival’s original spirit as well as its role within the greater Whistler community. And I can get pretty stubborn about stuff like that. There’ll be disagreements — I’m sure — just like when Doug was here….”

That said, she also maintains that the working relationship between the various festival partners is entirely positive. “It’s in everyone’s best interest for this to be a successful event,” she says. “Particularly this year. I’ve got a lot of support from a lot of different sources. And that gives me confidence to move forward and get things done.”

Although it’s still too early in the season to talk about specific performances at this year’s WSSF, Sue is already hard at work tweaking the program so that it continues to be the edgy, groundbreaking festival that it was under Perry’s watch. “The WSSF has always been about growth, innovation and authenticity. And that means we have to question the status quo all the time. After all, there are always new and better ways to do things. It’s about taking risks. Riding the leading edge. And from my perspective, there’s no end point in sight on that front…”

Things may come. Things may go. But the festival will continue to celebrate mountain culture — under all its guises. “The festival is all about youth,” she says. “And by ‘youth’ I’m not talking about chronological age. I’m talking state of mind! One of Whistler’s most attractive characteristics is that it is a community of youthful-thinking people — no matter what their age might be. And that’s an attitude that the rest of the world could learn a lot from.”