"I think there is a lot of confusion in this community right now. We walked into being a world-class resort somewhat naively. And now we're not really sure who we are... Unless we figure it out soon, we're going to miss out on opportunities to re-enforce what we really want this place to stand for!"
- Andrée Janyk, fall 2006
She's like one of those crazy perpetual-motion machines. She just doesn't stop. Doesn't matter whether it's early on a summer's day and she's exhorting her charges on the soccer pitch or deep in winter's grasp and she's leading her gaggle of skiers down the hill. The woman with the familiar gap-toothed smile and weather-crinkled eyes simply refuses to grow old.
And she's not afraid of stepping out with her opinions. From pedagogy to high-performance sports, from quality-of-life to social responsibility, she won't hesitate to let you know exactly where she stands. Fortunately for Whistlerites, much of her energy is devoted to making this place a better community. Yes, she can be overwhelming sometimes with her persistence. And no, she'll rarely back down when she's on a mission. But then that's what passion is all about.
You see, Andrée Janyk is truly passionate about Whistler. Okay, so maybe she's just passionate about life in general. I mean, new-grandma Andrée has the kind of CV that virtually shouts "Go for it." But it's not like she promotes her youthful accomplishments or anything — au contraire, it's taken me years to gather together all the puzzle pieces of her story.
I already knew, for example, that she'd been a member of the national ski team in the late 1960s — and had just missed being named to the '68 Olympic squad ("By just one spot," she says). But until last week, I didn't know that she'd enrolled at SFU after retiring from ski racing, where she proceeded to become one of the only students ever to participate in three different varsity sports there — field hockey, cross-country running and track. "That was a fun time," she says. "SFU was a new university — only two years old — and very political. Very engaged too." She laughs. "I heard some great speakers in the main quad there. In fact, that's where I learned a lot of my politics." Hmm...
After graduation came a stint in Europe. But she didn't go as a ski bum — or at least not a conventional one. No, Andrée was still a student, living in Brussels and studying for a PhD in kinesiology. There are no mountains in Belgium. No real ski hills of any size. But that didn't stop our intrepid young traveller. "I taught skiing in Val D'Isere on weekends," she says. "Even got a coaching job in Tignes for a while." She laughs at my look of disbelief. And quickly explains. "I'd study all week, take the Friday night train from Brussels to the French Alps, sleep on the train, ski Saturday and Sunday, and then return to school for class on Monday." More laughter. "I was young then. I had lots of energy. It was a great adventure."