It's traditional when someone passes to mention how much that person will be missed, but in Eric Rousseau's case it's almost an understatement: friends and co-workers organizing a celebration of his life in Whistler are booking one of the largest venues in town for an estimated 800 to 1,200 friends. A Facebook page that was created in his honour, Rooster's Roost, had over 500 members in the first 24 hours. At press time it was over 620.
All of his friends had similar things to say about Rousseau. They commented on his big heart and the way he made everyone feel important. They talked about his generosity, real and spiritual, and how open he was to others. They raved about his incredible skiing, and skills that stuck out in a town filled with great skiers. He touched hearts, changed lives and inspired thousands of people in ways great and small.
He even had a motto to be remembered by: "The faster you ski, the less time you're in danger."
"He was a very diverse guy," said Francois Sauve, who met Rousseau a decade ago through Ski School on Blackcomb Mountain. They shared an affinity for racing motorcycles and travelled together to the U.S. to race various tracks. Rousseau also went to work for Sauve's tree planting company, maintaining vehicles and helping out everywhere.
"He was a real jack of all trades, that expression really applied to him. He was interested in everything, and if he had an interest he pursued it very intensely. He was always interested in getting better at any field he was interested in."
One of the things Rousseau was interested in was skiing. He achieved his Level 4 ski certification in only two attempts, then became a Level 4 examiner. He was recently selected as one of 10 Canadian instructors to represent Canada at Interski in Europe, the international body that harmonizes ski technique and instruction standards. In fact, he was the captain of the Canadian team at the most recent Interski congress.
"He was a hell of a guy," said Rob McSkimming, VP of business development for Whistler Blackcomb. He knew Rousseau for about 10 years.
"The consensus was that Eric was probably the best natural skier we had in our company in our Ski School for sure - what he accomplished with the Canadian Demo Team and Interski team bear that out. I just had a tonne of respect for the guy because of that. And not only was he a great skier, he was a great trainer and developer of talent.
"No matter who he met and what station they were in life, he had an impact on people. He was full of life, he was fun to be around - the life of the party, and a lot of people had a lot of respect, and a lot of good times, with Eric."