Outgoing Whistler Blackcomb (WB) COO Dave Brownlie has made no secret his plans to take some long overdue time in retirement to enjoy the ski-bum life.
Now, he’ll get the chance to do so on a run bearing his name.
Whistler Blackcomb will officially rename Heavenly Basin on Blackcomb Mountain as “Brownlie Basin” in honour of the longtime executive who spent close to 30 years with the company. A new line running through the basin will also be named “Dave’s Day Off.”
“Dave’s unrivalled passion for the Whistler community and his pure joy for the sport of skiing, the outdoors and the beauty of British Columbia have created a legacy for all of us to enjoy for decades to come. ‘Brownlie Basin’ and ‘Dave’s Day Off’ are a tribute to Dave and his family’s dedication to Whistler Blackcomb,” read a WB memo announcing the renaming this week.
Brownlie began his career in the ski industry as a fresh-faced 26-year-old accountant for what was then Blackcomb Mountain. He quickly rose up the ranks, and was never far from any of the mountain’s major developments over the past 25 years.
He was handpicked to lead the 1997 merger of Whistler and Blackcomb mountains alongside Doug Forseth. He was there for the purchase, in 2006, of then-WB owner Intrawest by the private equity firm, Fortress. He weathered the storm just three weeks before the 2010 Winter Games when Fortress defaulted on its loan payment, ultimately leading to the partial sale of WB and the company's eventual Initial Public Offering on the Toronto Stock Exchange. He helped lead WB out of Whistler's post-Olympic slump and then, in 2012, his first year as CEO, Brownlie endured another upheaval when Intrawest sold its remaining stake to KSL Capital Partners.
He was instrumental in getting investors onboard with the groundbreaking concept for the Peak 2 Peak Gondola, and, more recently, helped the resort navigate often-challenging negotiations with the province and the local Squamish and Lil’wat First Nations, culminating in February’s landmark signing of Whistler Blackcomb’s 60-year Master Development Agreement.
After three decades, one massive merger, multiple changes in ownership, a recession, and a successful Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games, Brownlie announced in May he would be stepping down as COO of the company he helped usher into Whistler's modern era. His final day on the job was Friday, July 14.
"It truly has been a privilege to be able to work with the team at Whistler Blackcomb, the people that I've learned from, the leaders in the community... who worked together to create what is arguably the No. 1 resort in the world,” Brownlie told Pique after revealing his plans to retire. “It's crazy. We get so used to it because we're in it. But if you step away and get out in the world, you realize this is a really special place. We've made a lot of decisions that have been right, and it's just great to have been a part of that."
A dedication ceremony for the new trail names will be held in December.
For more on this story, pick up this Thursday's edition of Pique.