Opinion » Alta States

Alta States

Stand up and be counted - a tribute to Greg Lee



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I can't remember all the details, but as I recall I'd taken a couple of weeks off coaching and had found (very) modest success racing on the ' tour - then sponsored by Peugeot. In a moment of unbridled optimism, I decided to invest my humble winnings and take a shot at the WPS 'A' tour. That's where I met Greg. Well, to be honest, I saw Greg long before we met...

You couldn't miss the guy. He had more advertising plastered on his ski suit than anybody else on the damn hill. And he definitely looked the role. With his red headband and blow-dried blond hair, his wrap-around sunglasses, allover tan, twinkling blue eyes and dazzling smile, the guy was a walking advertisement for the ski-racer lifestyle. I figured he had to be one of the top skiers around...

I was wrong. After we both failed to qualify for the main event - Greg, as I remember, crashing out of the course in one of his legendary yard sales - I found myself nursing a beer next to him at the bar. While I was feeling pretty low about losing my entry fee ($150!), Greg looked, and acted, like he'd just won a million bucks. By the second or third (or maybe sixth) beer, we were bosom buddies.

"So how come we never see you on the 'B' circuit?" I wanted to know. No answer. So I persisted: "It's pretty cheap to enter. And its got some really good racing too."

Greg looked at me for a long time. Shook his head in mock dismay. Then he burst out laughing. "Dude," he said, humour flicking through every words, "that's exactly the point. There's no money in it." Then he nudged his head even closer to mine. "Look at my life," he said in his most conspiratorial tone. "Whaddya see?" And just in case I hadn't figured it out: "All the girls I want, great lodging, wonderful eats and totally crazy parties. And I get all these goodies whether I qualify or not...."

And then he laughed and laughed and laughed. "I've gotta be one of the best-paid skiers on the Tour," he told me. "I have more sponsors than even the top Euros do. So tell me: why would I ever want to jeopardize that by racing for pennies on your circuit?" A beat. Two beats. His face broke into the biggest grin I'd ever seen. "It's simple economics, baby..."And then the changed the subject.

That, my friends, was vintage Greg Lee...

Baby Beast. Pigman. Sumo. Sleeping Horse. Greg had more nicknames that anyone I know. And each one was earned. "Greg was one of my all-time best friends," remembers Chris Shackleton. "We met when we were in our teens in Blueberry Bowl on Grouse Mountain. He introduced himself to me as "The Baby Beast" because his brother, Damien, whom we all knew, was known as "The Beast." Olle Larson was there too and remembers it well..."