She was The Bond Girl. A long-legged acrobatic skier from England who’d learned her stuff on a plastic-covered slope in Southampton (with a whopping vertical drop of 110 metres), Julia Snell was a sophisticated young athlete with a promising future.
He was the dashing Canuck. A hard-charging mogul skier who’d grown up on the wild-west slopes of coastal B.C., John Smart was a rough-around-the-edges jock who wasn’t afraid to point ’em straight down the hill when the going got tough.
How these two individuals came to fall in love, settle in Whistler, start a business (or two), get married and raise two sons is one of those grand Snoweater stories that make this mountain culture of ours so endearing.
But first, let’s deal with the Bond story. “It was 1985, and I was studying French at the University of Grenoble,” recounts Julia, who was then a member of the British Freestyle Team . “I wasn’t living in a particularly nice part of town, so when this man in uniform knocked on my door, I wasn’t sure I should answer.”
Luckily she did. “He had a telegram for me,” she says, a smile dancing on the edge of her lips. “‘You’re booked on a plane out of town tonight,’ it said. I couldn’t believe it. I’d been picked for the opening sequence of the new James Bond film, A View to a Kill.”
And it couldn’t have worked out better for the young skier. The sequence went off without a hitch, the fee she earned from the shoot paid for her whole competitive ski season and “I got to attend the film’s premiere with Duran Duran and Princess Diana,” says Julia in her still-very-posh English accent.
“From then on,” adds John, “Julia was ‘The Bond Girl.’” He laughs.
John insists he noticed Julia long before she even knew he was alive. “It was at a 1987 World Cup event at Mont Gabriel, in Quebec. I saw this girl doing her thing on the dance floor and I totally fell for her. But I was just a rookie on the team back then. And she seemed to know everybody…”
Unlike alpine skiing, where men and women rarely race together, the World Cup freestyle circuit is a fully integrated affair. Which, as the Smarts suggest, is a much healthier way of doing things. “It was way more social,” argues John. “There was a lot of camaraderie between the teams. We all competed hard on the hill, for sure. But when it was over, it was over. We were all good friends.”