"Nobody grows old merely by living a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul."
- American Poet Samuel Ullman
It's the longest-running ski program at Whistler. Back when it was launched in 1983, the resort was a brash adolescent. Blackcomb Mountain had just opened its doors. The village was more work-site than shopping mall. Snowboarding, of course, was still a work in progress. People rode on very long, very skinny skis. And the Crazy Canucks had just scored four straight victories at the fabled Hahnenkamm downhill.
Ski racing was big in Whistler back then. Many of the young adults who had migrated here had grown up smacking bamboo — in Quebec, Southern Ontario, Halifax, Thunder Bay, even Calgary. Following the fortunes of Canada's dashing young men in their canary-yellow suits and red maple leafs was considered de rigueur by valley connoisseurs.
One of the most loved of these downhillers was Dave Murray. A relative latecomer to the sport, the WMSC alumnus perfectly embodied the risk-taking, fun-loving culture just then establishing itself in the Whistler Valley. Tall and broad-shouldered — blond, blued-eyed and square of chin — Murray was about as chill a character as you'd ever want to meet. And he was a truly loyal friend. Unpretentious to the extreme, and a beast for hard work, the guy they called "Mur" never took his ski racing good fortune for granted. Nor did he ever miss a chance to sing the praises of his Coast Mountain home.
Like so many of his West Coast peers, Murray was a skier first... and a racer next. Don't get me wrong. The guy committed himself entirely to his racing career during his years on the White Circus. But in his heart — in the deepest part of him — Dave was always a ski bum. He often said that getting up on the mountain for a day of high-speed powder turns always reminded him why he got involved with the sport in the first place.
The Canadian squad's acknowledged leader during his decade-long stint with the Team, Murray was never a big talker. He preferred to lead by example. So when he retired in 1983 and was appointed Director of Skiing at Whistler Mountain, he immediately set about putting into play a plan he'd been thinking about for years.
Three elements to remember here. The first thing to keep in mind is the fierce rivalry that was growing between upstart Blackcomb and old school Whistler. In those early years — long before the amalgamation of the two outfits — the mountains' respective senior management teams were obsessed (and that's not too strong a word for it) with one-upping their cross-valley competitor. Any advantage gained over the other was seen as a win.