"What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family."
- Mother Teresa
I'm not sure I've ever seen her in a bad mood. And given her (often stressful) job managing the phone lines at Whistler Mountain's Alpine Office, that's probably a good thing. Always positive, mostly smiling, Becky Wenger is one of those rare people who seem eminently unflappable.
And considering the quirkily adventurous nature of her Swiss-born husband, Yves, that's probably a good thing too...
A woman with a deep — and profound — appreciation for mountain life, the forty-something mother of two boys is a cycling, riding, snowmobiling dynamo. She never stops. "I just love playing in the snow," she admits. "It's become a big part of my life. And the fact that we can all do it as a family..." Pause. A quick breath. "Well, that's really important to me too."
She's a lifelong skier, right? Somebody who grew up on the slopes. Ate ski technique for breakfast. Read all the magazines. Spent her youth living only for the next turn...
Not quite. "I didn't really ski as a kid," explains Becky. "Sure, I would go up to [Collingwood's] Osler Bluff from time-to-time — my cousins had a place up there —still, all I can remember are painful experiences..."
But it's not like she was inactive. "I biked," she says enthusiastically. And laughs. "I loved biking. I biked everywhere in Toronto." And she paddled too. "As a teenager, I attended a canoe-tripping camp in Algonquin Park. And that was awesome. To be a 13-year-old girl paddling and camping in the Northern Ontario wilderness — it really had a big impact on me."
More than anything though, Becky wanted to travel; she wanted to see/experience the rest of the world. "I already spoke fluent French by the time I graduated from high school," she recounts. "So I decided to move to France and become an au-pair girl." The year was 1986. And Becky was about to learn her first overseas lesson.
Only 19, and far from home, the young Torontonian soon realized that being the housebound slave of bourgeois Parisians was not exactly what she'd expected. "It was terrible," she says. And laughs again. "I had taken care of kids all my life — but this was really challenging. No matter what I did, it seemed that Canadians just couldn't live up to the standards of Parisian French. But I loved Paris — I was a little girl in a big city — just not the job...."
Fortunately, her eight-month stint in au-pair hell eventually passed. That's when she made a life-changing decision. "My godfather had just bought a club in a Swiss mountain resort called Leysin," explains Becky. "It sounded beautiful — just above Lac Lehman and surrounded by some of the most stunning peaks in the Alps. So I decided to check it out."