For the twelfth time in as many years, Whistler, that most improbable of ski resorts, thumbs its nose at tradition and refuses to melt away silently… at least for another 10 days. With something approaching three metres of base where it counts, notwithstanding the white/brown camo motif the lowest reaches of the skiouts are sporting, the TELUS World Ski and Snowboard Festival rolls into town tomorrow with something for everybody and way more than most of us can handle without freaking out our vital organs.
TWSSF — a name shared, it turns out, by an obscure tribe of pygmies in the Australian outback who have managed to survive all these centuries without a single vowel — is Whistler’s ode to spring. We’ve managed to keep our spirits and service levels up with nary a trace of antidepressants since the first exciting dumps of November, through the crush of Christmas and the clockwork liquid snow days of January, February and March, compliments of Global Warming which may or may not exist depending on which industry or Bush/Harper administration crackpot you’re listening to. Now if we just survive the next 10 days, we can pat ourselves on our collective backs, enjoy breakfast in bed, jump on our mountain bikes or roll back over and sleep ‘til noon.
The Festival has changed hands this year. Well, more like it’s had a pair of hands disappear. Gone is founder and Party Dude for Life, Doug Perry. Without so much as a horse head in bed, the MotherCorp and Tourism Whistler made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. None of the parties will say exactly what that offer was and I’m too polite to press the point but rumour has it Doug’s hard at work turning an obscure island in the South Pacific into a hi-tech theme park and sponsoring a stable of souped-up planes on the corporate jet freestyle racing circuit. And no, I didn’t hear it from Greg Stump.
The festival workings have been turned over to Sue Eckersley and her Watermark Communications group, at least for the next five installments. Looking remarkably like W1 without Doug, Watermark has been busy leaving well enough alone, adding exciting new elements to the festival like the Chairlift Revue — a gay thespian evening of live theatre rumoured to be the don’t-miss event of the year and the most fun you can have with most of your clothes on — and generally hustling this fiesta along with no paranoia whatsoever that Big Brothers are watching their every move with nervous skepticism.
Sue has, of course, run the festival all along. No one knew that because whenever anyone had some non-consequential, festival-related question — that is, whenever someone from the media called — she’d shove Doug out to talk to them. Sue is, shall we say, uncomfortable with media. Actually Sue loves media… as long as we don’t talk or write about her. And I would just like to take this opportunity to say there is absolutely no truth to the very nasty rumour that she once threatened to remove, violently, that which makes a man a man if an unnamed media hack ran an actual photograph of her. She did, however, threaten to surgically remove various extremities fundamental to erect locomotion and conducive to eating in polite society without the use of a feeding tube. And I’m pretty sure she meant it.