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And we should be celebrating all those victories. So listen up. It’s a good story.
“We’re supposed to be selling fun,” says the feisty 62 year old. “But things are getting so expensive right now that we’re taking the fun right out of it.” The former mountain guide stops speaking for a moment. His eyes crinkle in concentration. He continues. “Skiing — sliding on snow — is a passion that people develop when they’re really young. It’s a multi-generational thing too. A lifetime activity. But we’ve forgotten to nurture that. We’ve gotten too greedy; forgotten what value is all about. I mean, every time I charge a dollar more, that’s another dollar out of my client’s pockets. When does he say enough?”
He smiles. And in true Lockean logic, reveals his new mission. “My goal at Lake Louise is to make sure that a family of four can ski on this mountain all season long for less than dad’s membership at the local golf club.”
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me set the scene:
It’s World Cup week in Lake Louise. Hordes of healthy young bodies flow between the massive-beamed — and multi-tiered — day lodge and the lifts. Big kids in national team gear; little kids in local club colours. And more, of course. Excited moms and dads and aunties and cousins and weltschmerz -faced coaches and rough-bearded techs and harried volunteers and gauloises-smoking journalists and bell-ringing fans: it’s a happy, mad, enticing swirl of tribal rituals.
I sit and gaze through Charlie’s office window at the slopes of this Rocky Mountain giant. It’s been snowing intermittently all week and the aptly named range is slowly losing its rocky lustre. Still, it’s such a different mountainscape than our own coastal variety. So much harsher. So much more austere. It’s what turns me on about travelling though — it’s fun to feel a little unbalanced by your surroundings. Fun to be a visitor on somebody else’s slopes…
“So does it feel good to be back?” I ask the prodigal retiree. “Do you figure you made the right move in exercising your buy-back option after all this time?” Charlie pulls off his glasses. Absent-mindedly wipes them off and puts them on again. He smiles.