By G.D. Maxwell
Im glad Im not Whistler Blackcomb. Or is it Whistler-Blackcomb? Or Whistler/Blackcomb? Its not the name confusion thing that makes me glad Im not whatever, although it does underscore the pitfalls of both mergers and marriages in an age when people cant make up their minds to go with one name or the other but still have enough sense to not undertake a rebranding exercise that leaves them with a name of uncertain origin that sounds suspiciously like a rogue biology experiment gone bad.
Im glad Im not those guys gender inclusive because theyre scratching their collective brains right now trying to figure out THE FUTURE OF SKIING. Of course, its not the future of skiing , its the future of . Its the future of . See, heres one of the basic problems with the exercise. What do you call what happens on Whistler and Blackcomb and all the other highly developed mountains where people come to play?
Snow sports? Wow, theres a moniker that has all the appeal of gum disease. Skibbing? Too cute by a kilometre. Mountain culture? I can feel the fungus growing beneath my high-tech, no-smell long underwear. Skiing and riding or skiing and boarding? Too exclusive in a rapidly changing landscape and too much of a mouthful to say, unless youre a writer who gets paid by the word.
In his story in last weeks Pique , Andrew Mitchell, whos wise beyond his years, uses the word skiing when left to his own devices. He refers to " skier visits", " see how skiers were distributed ", " ski industry." Andrews not a guy to be trifled with and clearly has either made up his mind, hasnt given the subject much thought, or doesnt get paid by the word. I suspect his predisposition to be succinct and clear hallmarks of a good journalist guide him in this matter.
By contrast, Arthur DeJong, who is also wise beyond his years, is all over the map and clearly struggling with what I consider to be the threshold question. In his defense, Arthurs title is Manager of Mountain Planning and Environmental Resources, a title that fills up one entire side of a standard business card and ends in "Contd, PTO". Arthurs struggle is my struggle. I feel his pain.
To describe the business hes in, Arthur chooses terms like "mountain resort industry" or "industry" when he wants to be brief, and "skiing and riding" to tag the basic activity. He uses "mountain enthusiasts", "users" and "guests" to, well, to underscore the fact that even the smartest thinkers in the biz arent really sure what to call the people who, collectively, take part in it.