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Despite the price, progress was made. Whistler became what it is today: a world-class — more or less — 3.5 season mountain resort. Good snow and buoyed spirits this season might cause some to reflect on the extent to which we’ve truly become a “mountain” resort as opposed to a ski resort with a change of clothes for the other seasons, but that’s a different philosophical discussion.
The price of that progress though has been a hard-to-define atomization of spirit, what some grousingly refer to as the mojo we’ve misplaced. Life, not to be confused with a living, has become easier in Tiny Town. Maybe too easy. Spirit, on the other hand, has become more difficult to capture.
A couple of seasons ago, Shawn Hughes, musing about the Peak to Valley, said, “Back then, it wasn’t so much about competition; it was more of a fun, locals’ thing. The spirit of the race was really Dave Murray. Then a couple of Euros came over and it started to get pretty competitive. Then these World Cup guys got in there and it started to change a lot. Now, it just costs too much. You have to sign up in the summer. It’s a lot of Vancouver people. The spirit of the thing kind of got deleted a bit. I’m pretty sad that I’m not really involved any more.”
Shawn used to be involved. The Peak to Valley was a touchstone in his life. He was a fixture on one of the dynastic teams that dominated the race for over a decade, Frankie Goes to the Valley.
While not taking anything away from the race and the people who sweat blood to make it happen every year, and the people — myself included — who come out to enjoy the energy, the buzz and the fine Appleton Rum drinks on Dusty’s patio (okay, this is coming dangerously close to pandering) Shawn’s got a point.
The Peak to Valley race was Dave Murray’s personal vision, a fire burning in his belly, a fire shared by the people who eagerly waited for it to come around the beginning of every February. It has now become an “event”, one of many in an increasingly crowded event calendar that tries to satisfy all manner of tastes, whims and passions.