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Alta States

Kathy Podborski: Keeping the home fires

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It was through her brothers -- and friend Ken Read -- that she first got to know Steve. “We met at the Calgary Stampede in 1981,” she recounts. “And we pretty much hit it off from the moment we met.” But though the connection was strong, both realized they were on different life paths at the time.

Meanwhile, Kathy went from a seven-year school teaching stint in Montreal -- “I was there for the Olympics in ’76,” she says, “and it was a life-changing experience” -- to a job as an airline hostess, based out of Calgary. When the Games came to Alberta in 1988, she found herself residing in yet another Canadian Olympic city. “Strange, isn’t it? And now with Whistler hosting the Games, it’s three-for-three.” She laughs. “Not too many Canadians can claim that…”

It was during the Calgary Games that the flame of romance between Steve and Kathy finally flared. Six months later they were married and living in Toronto. “Steve’s never been really attracted by the rock-star lifestyle,” she says. “Still, I had to ask myself whether I’d be comfortable living with someone with his kind of celebrity status.” She stops talking. Sighs. “You know, most young married couples will go out for dinner to discuss issues. But when we were living in Toronto, I realized we couldn’t do that. Even though you might not always notice it, people are watching your every move. Your public life is really not your own.”

Could that be part of the reason they moved to Whistler in 1993? “Not really,” she says. “By then, we’d both decided that we wanted to live at a ski resort. And Whistler at the time was expanding and it offered some interesting possibilities. Both Steve and I had always liked it here — and it was a heck of a lot warmer than Banff. Besides, it looked like a great place to bring up our kids… and we wanted to settle in somewhere before they started school.”

Nonetheless, there were doubts. “Steve said: ‘What if we don’t like it there.’ And I said: ‘We’ll just move back.’” When they eventually found a house in the Tapley’s Farm neighbourhood, Kathy took it as a sign. “I mean, how tough can life be when you’re living on Easy Street?”

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