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Feature - Fountain of youth

Whether it’s the activities, the lifestyle, the attitude or just running away from responsibility, Whistlerites remain young at heart


By Kara-Leah Grant

It is a search that has been going on for as long as time itself, yet despite the extravagant claims by many companies, nobody has yet discovered the fountain of youth. You can eat a balanced diet packed with free radicals, use as many creams or potions as you like and swallow a multitude of pills and you will never cheat death. But something is going on in Whistler.

People still get older here and people still die here, but people don’t age here. Or at least, they don’t age in ways that regular society deems ‘normal’. The winner of Whistler-Blackcomb Living the Dream contest, awarded to the person that skied the most days during the season, was no adrenaline addicted 19-year-old but an 84-year-old named George Huxtable. He exemplifies the attitude that makes Whistler different from the rest of the world. Here, age is nothing more than digits on a driver’s license.

It’s Friday night at Tommy Africa’s and up on one of the podiums is a slim girl with long blonde hair. She’s furiously shaking her body to the latest hip hop, energetically moving through a broad selection of moves. No one on the dance floor has a hope of keeping up with her, although a few of the boys are trying. She looks like one of many young things in the bar, yet Ace MacKay-Smith has been doing this for over 10 years. Now 37 and dubbed Mama GoGo by the other dancers, Ace epitomizes somebody who defies age expectations.

"Of course I’m surprised I’m still go-go dancing," says MacKay-Smith. "Back when I was 20, I didn’t even think I’d want to go out on New Year’s 2000 because I thought at 34 I wouldn’t want to go out anymore!"

But not only does MacKay-Smith still go out, she’s the dancer everybody else is trying to keep up with. She dances regularly at Tommy’s and appears at parties all over town, including the biggest party of them all, the Big Air during the World Ski and Snowboard Festival.

"I think dancing keeps me younger because I’m always surrounded by younger people," says MacKay-Smith. "Plus living in Whistler certainly helps because it’s not like real life here. Whistler is a young town. Even the people who are older, like Rabbit and Seppo, they were mentally young too."

Ace Mackay-Smith and George Huxtable represent merely the tip of the iceberg in Whistler. Take a good look around at your Whistler friends and while they may not be doing such extreme age-resistant activities, chances are, it’s hard to pin down whether they’re 25 or 35 or 45. They might even be 55 or 65, but according to Statistics Canada, almost half of Whistler’s population is between 25 and 44.