Opinion » Alta States

Scott Paxton — Staying true to the dream



Everyone knows Scooby. He's been a fixture on the Whistler scene for the last three decades. Easy-going, always-smiling — and with a good word for everyone — the RMOW's heavy equipment operator appears to be the most unstressed guy in town. But don't mistake his calmness for indifference. On the mountain, in the valley — at parties, gatherings or official functions — Scooby always finds a way to be where you most need him. He's not flamboyant. And he's certainly not loud. Still, Whistler wouldn't be Whistler without people like Scott Paxton.

Here's a little story to illustrate that point. It's the winter of 1990. A huge Pacific storm has dumped a metre of snow on the mountain overnight. And not the light snow they know on the other side of the Coast Range. No — this is thick and dense and thoroughly Pacific. It's going to be an epic Whistler day. The gang has assembled at Creekside. There's Jimmy and Peppy and Vinny and Double and... We're all on snowboards of course — the era's still-skinny nose-pickers hold no appeal in this snow — and we're feeling pretty smug about it.

The call is simple: Franz's run to the valley. Non-stop — see you at the gondy. But just before we push off, our old friend Scooby shows up at the top of Red. And he's wearing the weirdest pair of boards any of us has ever seen! Very fat and surprisingly short, his new Atomic powder skis have us all hooting with laughter. "Fat skis for fat folk," says one wag. "You might as well strap 'em together and make a snowboard," says another. Scooby doesn't rise to the bait however. He just smiles. "You'll see,"says his eyes.

And we all push off at once. Yeah baby. The snow is so deep it rises over my head in the very first turn. I let my board find its own path. So magical. So sensual. But my fun is soon interrupted. There's no more path to take! I'm stranded. Too much snow! Can't move forward to save my life. And like my companions I'm reduced to dragging myself through the snow, wiggling and waggling and duck-walking to the next pitch.

The only guy who is still moving is the one the gang had so much fun heckling earlier. You got it — it's the man with the ski poles. And he's enjoying life to the fullest right now. Talk about getting hoisted on your own petard.

Now Scooby could have just laughed at us and continued down to the valley. Given the abuse he'd suffered over his choice of gear, it would have been totally justified. But that's not the way the man is wired. Rolling his eyes at our stranded-seal theatrics, Scott simply put his head down and set a track for us in the unforgiving snow. And thus we hopscotched our way from pitch to pitch — with our man Scooby breaking trail all the way down the mountain. I can still remember just how relieved I was to hit Dusty's that morning. I'm not sure I ever thanked him properly for that...

Add a comment