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Alta States

Gord Rox (Harder) - to the Peak and beyond

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And I can't help but wonder where we lost our way. Remember the old slogan "Just Do It"? Although it was Nike who commercialized the phrase, it was Whistler residents who pushed that philosophy to its logical extreme. Fun was still the operative word 25 years ago. Sure, Intrawest and their ground-chewing developer friends were already licking their chops at the opportunity to transform the place into Surrey North. But they hadn't quite got their hands on all the assets yet. And the inmates still ran the asylum.

Big events? Sure - we had World Cup downhills and stuff. But mostly we had made-for-local (and made-by-local) contests. The Great Snow, Earth, Water Race, Peak-to-Valley, Saudan Extreme, bar races and restaurant races and mountain-top parties where people got tipsy on sponsors' wine and made passes at friends' dates. Yeah. Okay - so maybe it was all immature and silly. But nobody felt excluded. And everyone could play.

But enough with the introduction already. Geez, I'm already halfway through my column and I still haven't brought up the Peak Brothers, er, I mean Gordy Rox. Still, most of what I've written so far could have come out of his characters' mouths...

You've heard of the Peak Bros no doubt? Loosely based on the infamous trio of dope-smoking, music-loving, cop-dodging hipster outlaws of the late 1960s - remember The Freak Bros? - Gord Rox's popular 'underground' comic strip represented the ne-plus-ultra of Whistler local style circa 1990. Totally dedicated to big-mountain skiing - "True to two!" was their war cry - the Peak Bros were cool, cynical, world-weary mountain seers fuelled by weed, powder snow and their disgust for the creeping urban scene that was slowly infecting their personal Shangri La.

They were funny, harsh, uncompromising and exclusive. Newcomers to the valley were kooks by definition. Snowboarders were posers. Members of the pro patrol were cop wannabes. The town was run by cretins and carpetbaggers. And only the Bros' friends could define Whistler style.

Get it? The Peak Bros strip was as much a satire on locals' snobbery as it was a critique of the development madness that was taking over the town. But neither side really got it. "Hardcore" locals embraced the strip for speaking out their angst and urbanizers vilified it for its outlaw stance. The rest of us just laughed...

Like many cartoonists, the creator of the Peak Brothers somehow managed to frame a watershed moment in the story of the place he loved with humour and sensitivity, and yes, wisdom and forethought. Today the Peak Bros sound alarmingly prescient. The Whistler they feared and loathed has arrived. So where the heck is Gordy Rox when we need him?

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