It’s not like Whistler has lost its soul or anything… but —
“Everything is getting so serious,” says Ace Mackay-Smith with her signature giggle. “You put on a ski event these days and it’s all about sponsors and prize money and photo ops and professional athletes. There’s no slush cups or restaurant races anymore, stuff that’s just for fun.” She pauses for just a beat. Smiles — and giggles again. “After all,” she says, “it wasn’t that long ago that organizing a ski event was just an excuse for having a big party…”
She shrugs. Pulls a stray strand of blond hair out of her eyes. “I mean, what are we doing exactly?” asks Whistler’s longest-working go-go girl. “We’re sliding down snow on slats of wood and plastic. How serious is that?”
Too true. So when it came time to celebrate the end of the World Ski & Snowboard Festival last week — something Ace has done successfully for 12 years on the last Sunday of the event — she decided to re-invent her party.
“For a bunch of reasons I was all for postponing it,” she explains. “But because of feedback from friends who were bummed that it wasn’t going to happen, I decided to re-think the idea instead. And that’s when it hit me: why not have a party on the day after the WSSF shuts down for all the people who had to work during the festival? Since the GLC got voted ‘best après spot’ by the Pique Reader Poll, it made sense to do a big end-of-season après party there. We could have a BBQ and make it like an old freestyle ski party and then move it inside once it got dark.”
Laughter is as much part of Ace’s discourse as are her words. Whether a giggle, a chortle, a belly-laugh or just a quiet titter, it punctuates her speech like rain drops on a tin roof. It’s partly nerves of course. Ace has never been overly fond of talking about herself. But it’s something else too. Something deep, profound — could it be that she actually has that much fun with life? That what you see and hear with Ace is really what you get? I’m not sure, but it certainly feels that way to me…
But I digress. Back to Ace.
“I have such great memories of those ol’ freestyle days,” says the 42-year-old deejay/dancer/filmmaker/artist. “When I was growing up, my dad managed Tod Mountain (now Sun Peaks). And he was always throwing some kind of ski bash there.”