"There's no scarcity of opportunity to make a living at what you love. There is only a scarcity of resolve to make it happen."
- Wayne W. Dyer
She's one of my favourite people in the valley. Funny and self-deprecating, energetic and outgoing, she represents all that is good and positive about the Whistler experience. But that should come as no surprise. After all, Karen Krivel has been involved with this place for the better part of 45 years.
"My dad grew up in Saskatchewan," she starts. "He was in the medical corps during World War II and was stationed in Vancouver for a time." She stops. Smiles. "He was a doctor at heart, you know, but an athlete in his mind. And he totally fell in love with the West Coast way of life."
When the war ended, Doctor Krivel returned home only to realize that living in the prairies couldn't fulfill his needs anymore. He'd gotten a taste of the coast. And he couldn't wait to get more. "My dad always said: 'The best thing about Saskatchewan was leaving it.'" She laughs. "He was all of 140 pounds soaking wet, you know. But he was keen. Really keen."
He fell in love with Whistler at first sight. "He came up here with a bunch of medical buddies," she tells me. "And that was that." In 1967, the Krivels bought a condo across the highway from Creekside — in fact, the first condo development ever built in the valley. "It was a real family scene," she remembers. "And lots of fun for the kids. The Sinclairs, the Ladners, the Quinns, the Sloans... they all had a place there."
Soon, Doctor Krivel, his wife and their four young daughters were spending every winter weekend at Whistler. "On Friday afternoons, my dad would pick the four girls up at school in our big station-wagon and pack us up to the mountain." She pauses for a beat. Shrugs. "And I really wasn't all that keen to go. As they say in my family I was onggabloozum. 'Why do we have to go to Whistler,' I'd whine. 'I want to stay in the city.'"
More laughter. "It's ironic in a way," she says. "Of the four Krivel girls, I'm the only one who ended up living here. But I always found it so cold at Whistler. It's just physiology, I know. But I had to work my way around that..."
She laughs again. "I'm a fish at heart. I love the water, I love the beach." She takes a long breath. "But I also love the mountains. Whistler has always been a spiritual place for me — a refuge. It's part of me... to the core."