Opinion » Alta States

Jules Older

Alta States



He was trained as a clinical psychologist. And for most of his professional life, that’s the path he pursued. He worked with inner-city college kids in the 1960s in New York. Taught behavioural sciences to med students in New Zealand in the 1970s and ’80s. But one morning Jules Older woke up and realized he wanted something different from life. “When I discovered on that happy day 20 years ago that that there was such a thing as a ‘ski writer’,” says the 67 year old, barely suppressing a grin, “I vowed to myself that this is what I would become.”

Wishful thinking? Maybe. A romantic dream? Probably for most people. But the long-time editor of Ski Press is no ordinary person. “I’ve been incredibly fortunate,” says Older. “I’m from Baltimore originally. Where I grew up, nobody skied. Didn’t even see my first pair until I became a student at the University of Vermont.” But that first look was enough. For though he didn’t know it at the time, the 18 year old was about to embark on a lifelong love affair with the sport. “It was as if I’d fallen into a magic place,” he explains. “And it felt pretty damn good to be there.”

His voice hums with pleasure as he recalls those early ski experiences. “I still remember my first outing to the Laurentians with the UVM Ski Club,” he says. Picture it if you can — late 1950s, a posse of American students in button-downs and chinos with too-long skis and too-soft boots flinging their college French at unsuspecting locals. “Being in Quebec didn’t hurt, of course,” he says. “But it was the whole package that was so attractive. Sun, snow, horse-drawn sleighs and girls in ski pants and cashmere sweaters: I was enchanted.”

An unabashed fan of Whistler, Older says he feels that same enchantment today when he comes north for his annual trip to the WSSF. “I always visit at the same time of the year,” he says. “So maybe my view is skewed a bit. But what I see at Whistler is a thriving community with a shared vision and amazingly talented residents. It really turns me on.”

He was having lunch recently with a writer from Hawaii who told him people who live in beautiful places are dumb. Says Older; “He used the example that in Hawaii you either surf, or else you get high and surf. That’s about it. He said it was the same at ski towns. I wanted to tell him that I knew at least one beautiful place that wasn’t like that. I find Whistler highly stimulating. Writers, artists, athletes, musicians, actors: you have a very diverse culture here.”