This column was supposed to be occupied by an entertaining (I thought) poem I wrote where the spirit of Rabbit pays the town a visit, gets mistaken for Santa Claus, and takes us all to task for forgetting the true spirit of skiing. Maybe I’ll run it next year — it just didn’t feel appropriate considering the gravity of our situation.
While the accident on the Excalibur Gondola could have been much worse in terms of injuries and access, it clearly couldn’t have been worse in terms of timing. The eyes of the world, already turned to Whistler as an Olympic host, were focused here like laser beams for the launch of the Peak 2 Peak Gondola. Media from around the world that were here to report on the start of a unique experience found themselves covering the Excalibur accident four days later.
Four ski days. That’s all it took for Whistler to go from its highest highs to its lowest lows. Now everywhere I go, loyal Whistlerites are wondering how it can possibly get any worse.
Set against a backdrop of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, a painfully low snowpack and a wide range of other impediments ranging from passport regulations to fluctuating exchange rates and gas prices, this has been a catastrophic end to a trying year. That’s why I have just one wish this year, and that’s for it to start snowing. Now.
Snow will bring people, it will lift our collective spirits, and it will make all of our other troubles seem a little more distant. It will give us breathing room, some time to collect ourselves before the Games arrive in 2010.
But if the snow doesn’t come as thick or as plentiful as we need, we still can’t give up. Instead of despairing we’ll need to redouble our efforts, and use this crisis to make ourselves stronger and better than before.
This is Spirit of Christmas-type stuff, the Grinch’s heart growing three sizes, Scrooge waking up on Christmas morning and rushing over to Bob Cratchit’s with a turkey, the Peanuts gang rallying around Charlie Brown’s broken tree. This is the last five minutes of Home Alone , when Macauley Culkin’s elderly neighbour reunites with his estranged son, or Christmas Vacation when Clark W. Griswold’s boss admits he was wrong to send his employees jam instead of bonuses.
The only difference is that this particular Christmas can’t end at midnight on December 25. We have to find a way to keep the spirit going through the season, though the summer, through next winter and the 2010 Olympics and Paralympics. Make no mistake that we are fighting for our resort’s survival here, for our jobs, our friends, our local businesses, our homes.