Opinion » Alta States

Conrad Schapansky – The Man From Carrot River

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He didn't make it to Whistler until 2001. And then only because he was visiting his buddy, Trevor Doerksen. But it was love at first sight. "I was, like, 'Wow! This is too much. I gotta live here.'" So that's what he did. He went home, quit his job, packed his bags and moved to Whistler.

But it wasn't sliding on snow that turned him on. It was riding his bike on Whistler's wild trails and crazy lines. "You know, when it comes to mountain biking, this place is about as exciting as it gets anywhere in the world. And I had a real passion for the sport. I mean, a dream day for me back then was getting up in the morning and riding my ass off until dark!" Whistler's newest resident embraced the biker lifestyle with both arms. "Riding was all I wanted to do," he admits. "I had some money saved up, and I sold my truck so I didn't have to work right away," He smiles. "I lived pretty simply in those days..."

And filmmaking? "That's a good story too," he says. "I was volunteering with the WB events department (to get a pass), and one of the women I worked with said 'You should go to this film event tonight. It's called the 72-hour Showdown. And it's a lot of fun.' It was my first year in Whistler. I wasn't going out much, you know. So I thought 'Yeah. Why not?'" He laughs. "I think I got one of the last tickets..."

That was the year Ace Mackay-Smith won the event with her animated Barbie Doll movie — a classic! And the friendly volunteer who steered Conrad in the Showdown's direction? That was Ace's mum, Winnie. "I remember watching Ace's acceptance speech: 'I couldn't do it without my brother Stu', she told the crowd..." He pauses. 'Wow! That totally opened my brain. So much talent in one family."

Conrad was hooked. "Next up was the B-Grade Horror Festival," he says. "And I went out and got tickets for that too. I was in awe, man. I'd seen all these people around town before. I mean, these were just guys hanging out and having fun making films. 'Damn!' I thought, 'I wanna be a part of this...'"

It wasn't long after that local filmmaker Angie Nolan got in touch with him. "She called me up on the phone," he says, "and offered me a leading role in her upcoming movie. I think I accepted before she'd even finished her sentence."

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