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Alta states

Willy Raine: A pure passion for the mountains

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And that was that. He didn’t say whether her skiing prowess intimidated him or motivated him. Didn’t say he was proud of it or embarrassed by it. It was a point of fact. Nothing more, nothing less. And I realized then, too, just how much he was like his father that way. Smile. Answer the questions. But always keep your cards close to your chest…

As it turned out, the 1992 Games would be one of the highlights in Willy’s all-too-short ski racing career. With a national team vision firmly focused on the speed events, Canadian technical skiers like Willy were hard-pressed to find the support and funds to further their careers during those years. Frustrated at his lack of progress, Raine retired from active ski racing a few seasons later. But ski racing never left his soul…

Today, at 37, Willy is still the quiet, thoughtful guy he was back in 1992. A resident of Whistler for most of his life — and now married to former freestyle skiing star Kennedy Ryan — he’s been the Head Coach for the K1 group (11-12 years old) at the Whistler Mountain Ski Club for years. And he’s loved it. But now he’s ready for a whole new challenge.

Recently named to the newly created post of Technical Director, Raine’s responsibilities will be to oversee all the club’s on-snow activities next year. “It will be my job,” he says,” to create learning environments on the hill where the kids are assimilating new skills and new ideas in the most progressive fashion possible.” He pauses. Checks to see if I’m following him. “Do you know what I mean? Being on the ski hill with the kids is awesome. And I love every minute of it. But I’m also fascinated with the challenge of creating a great overall program — a template for success at all levels.”

Raine isn’t one of those coaches who sees racing as an activity divorced from life. To him, it’s all connected. “I see ski racing as a means, not an end,” he says. “Ultimately, our aim at the club is to create ski champions. And I’m totally onboard with that. But I also see an opportunity here to create strong values — life skills that each of our kids (whether champions or not) can apply to their everyday lives. Discipline. Vision. Goal-setting. Knowing how to work with others. Learning how to win. Learning how to lose. These are skills that come in mighty handy when you enter your adult years.”