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“One liftee, Joe
Horn, worked at the bottom of the Green Chair (what is now Emerald Chair on
Whistler) and he shaved the ridges out of his boots,” Burrows recalls. “On his
lunch break, he would ski down to the gondola on his ski boots. No skis. He
couldn’t be bothered to get his skis on, and he loved the attention he got from
the people above on the lifts. It was pretty daring,” he said with a laugh.
menu (pre-competition from Pika’s at Blackcomb) consisted of fries, greasy
burgers, hotdogs and much coveted hot chocolate. Custom sandwich bars that
skiers now enjoy on breaks between runs were nowhere on the horizon. In time,
Whistler would change.
Whistlerite Colin Pitt-Taylor considers the air of sophistication that Whistler
now exudes was an inevitable occurrence.
what it was meant to become. Word got out,” he said with a shrug.
Was there a shift
in the air at any particular time in Whistler, or was the change from
hot-dogger ski town to swish mountain resort a slow and undefinable transition?
there was a palpable change in the valley with the arrival of Blackcomb.
“Before there was
an organization like the Whistler Chamber of Commerce in existence, Whistler
was famous for very different things than what it is known for now: incredibly
long line-ups at the Gondola, bad weather, deep snow and poorly groomed
trails,” Burrows said. “You needed six feet of snow to ski in a lot of areas
because when the snow melted in April, you’d be skiing over pick-up sticks. You
had to be careful.
(in the ‘60s and ‘70s) was full of surprises – you skied it by guess and by
God,” Burrows added. “Blackcomb was like the Holiday Inn – no surprises. And
that is because there was a huge lag between designing the two mountains.
Whistler was designed in the mid-‘60s Blackcomb was designed in the late ‘70s
and not operational until the ‘80s. Blackcomb had the advantage of computers to
figure out sun angles, avalanche paths and where trails should be cut.”