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Alta states

The Norwegian connection – Creating a legend in Whistler



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Dag Aabe stories are legion among early Whistler enthusiasts. And each is more outrageous than the next. I mean, this a guy who would regularly meet his ski school charges while walking on his hands with his skis on his feet. "Whistler wouldn't be the same place without him," posits Johnsen. "He's an original."

But back to our story. Ornulf's first year at Whistler would be a turbulent one. "It was a very intense experience," he admits. "Mainly because it was such a virgin place and there was so much to do." Alas there would be no second year...

Still, the high points far outshone the low points. "I got to set up the first summer ski camp at Whistler - that was really exciting," he says. "I almost got Stein Eriksen to come. But he told me: 'No Austrians!' Unfortunately, I couldn't guarantee him that..."

Meanwhile, Johnsen's contractual difficulties with Ferris and White were heating up. Ornulf knew he would have to find something else - soon. "So one day Franz Wilhelmsen invites me to the Vancouver Club. He says to me: 'There's someone I want you to meet.'" Another quick chortle. "Turns out it's the new president of Grouse Mountain, John Hoagg, and he needs a new 'ski man.'"

Although he didn't know it at the time, that meeting would result in a business relationship between Grouse and Johnsen that would endure for 23 years! And both sides would be extremely well served. Concludes Ornulf: "It's funny, you know, after I retired from Grouse in 1987, I didn't ski for nearly 10 years. But as soon as I got back to it I realized right away how much I'd missed it. I love skiing. I love teaching skiing. I haven't stopped since..."