Peter Andrews loves Sun Valley. He's had a place there for the last 35 years. Says investing in it was the best thing he ever did for his family. "I love the weather. Love the mountain lifestyle there - winter and summer," says the 70-year old Vancouver dentist. "I also love the fact that it's off the beaten track a bit..."
That's not so strange. After all, long before Whistler Mountain had lifts, Sun Valley was the big-mountain resort of choice for keen West Coast skiers. And Andrews fits into that pre-Whistler generation perfectly. "I first went there when I was still at UBC - 1957, I think," he says. "It was Jimmy Haight who convinced me to go. We were attending a very boring lecture and getting absolutely nothing out of it and Jimmy suggested we drive down to Sun Valley and visit a ski racing friend of ours, Verne Anderson. I had a car, a buddy of ours had some dollars and Jimmy had a 10-foot hose." He tries to keep a straight face. Can’t - and a grin slides across well-worn smile lines. "It was a very low-budget trip..." he adds.
So low-budget, he says, that the three Canadians would show up at the River Run lift at the bottom of Baldy at 7 every morning and spend three hours toiling with the packing crew "you know, sidestepping the hill and mashing down the moguls and generally making the hill fit for paying customers." The payoff: a free lift pass and lunch at the Roundhouse. "It was the perfect deal," he asserts.
We're eating at a sushi bar just up the street from Andrews's downtown office. A still-youthful, fit-looking guy - is 70 the new 50? - Andrews gets visibly excited when the subject of skiing comes up. He hunches forward in his seat. His eyes get all sparkly. "I still get a huge kick out of flying down those Sun Valley groomers," he tells me. "But those early days were special. It wasn't about how much vertical you skied, or whether or not you made perfect turns. It was about hanging out in a special place and sharing those sensations with friend..."
He laughs. "That's what still turns me on today. I love the social side of the sport. I love the friends I've made in skiing." A long pause. "You know, there's nothing more satisfying to me than going up the mountain for a few good runs with some buddies, stopping for a comfortable lunch, and ending the day with a glass of wine and good conversation." He stops speaking. "And that to me, is what the essence of skiing - its soul - is really all about..."