Whistler is a strange place. You wouldn’t see it if you were just passing through, but having been there for the season I think there’s no way that you couldn’t notice. It’s just so commercialised and artificial! It really does feel like Disneyland, even though I’ve never been there to draw comparisons :) plus you get such a small section of the overall population there – no poor people, few women (and the ones that stay there get greatly above their station due to the favourable ratio), everyone smokes weed, has long messy hair, speaks like “dude man bro”, wears toques (or beanies to you and me), even in nightclubs and restaurants, SO many Australians, basically it’s a bubble just like at university, except smaller and MUCH less diverse. Property prices are ridiculous, everything is so expensive (although not the degree of the bar prices in French resorts, thankfully) but everyone wants to go so nothing changes. I’m particularly happy to leave behind the junkie culture, although it doesn’t really affect anyone, you just notice it (especially on the buses) and ignore it. Compared to the French resorts (and probably anywhere with an ounce of tradition) it just has no charm whatsoever. Having said that it’s a cool place to live!!! Everything is so relaxed – the biggest decisions you have to make are “should I go boarding on my day off or chill out at home”, and “which bar should I go to tonight”, the scenery is absolutely beautiful, everyone is really friendly, you bump into friends every time you go out, there’s loads of outdoor activities. A lot of people I met who lived in the place permanently were deeply opposed to city life, which I guess is understandable considering the size of this country… (I feel we’re going to return to England with such a different perspective)
If I had the opportunity to do the thing over again then there are certainly things I would have done differently, but then it’s easy to know what the best way to do things is once you’ve done it! Hindsight is a wonderful thing. The biggest changes I would have made are house and job (i.e. everything). Our house was cool but I’m sure if I’d gone with instinct at the start then we could have found somewhere much better, particularly if me & Si had stuck with our plan of finding somewhere for the two of us. As far as the job was concerned the ‘free’ pass you get for working for intrawest is in no way free. Basically you can’t quit your job because if you do then you have to shell out another $1000 for a pass, I heard of one guy at the roundhole being told that if he didn’t work the extra shift that they wanted him to do then they would revoke his lift pass, nice. Plus we worked out that working evening part time hours Si earned double what I did, and he was struggling for hours a lot of the time. Even when you take into account that he had to buy his pass he still earned over $2000 more than me. Plus he got to go boarding every day! Like I said before though the social side of my work was pretty good, and I think we got a bum deal because most other people who worked for Intrawest didn’t seem to have so many bad words to say, we just got unlucky working at the roundhouse because of the idiot management there. Having said that I don’t think that anyone was particularly happy with how Intrawest treated its employees. I mean it’s a customer-centric organisation but they don’t value their employees at all, if you’re not management. If you *are* management then none of the rules that apply to the seasonal staff seem to apply to you, you get to do nothing all day and you get paid a very nice salary to order around the guys getting minimum wage in probably the most expensive place to live in Canada. Still, I was happy to learn that our supervisor Stefan was demoted to lead hand for the summer from his supervisor position, maybe due in part to all the negative feedback I gave him on the employee opinion survey, heh. Well at least I’d like to think so. I’m actually quite sad that in so many of my postings I’ve complained about work, I think if I’d worked somewhere else then maybe the experience would have been altogether different! It was cool to work on top of a mountain though :) also the snow situation didn’t help with the overall experience – I’m still dumbfounded by the fact that the one year we come to do this they have their worse season on record. We should have had fresh powder to ride every time we went up, but instead we got rain, sun, lots of ice and very little opportunity to improve for a long time. There were runs below the mid-station that didn’t open all season, how crazy is that? I’ll tell you – it’s unheard of. When the snow finally did come it was SO much better, you could actually see why people rate Whistler Blackcomb as the best resort in the world (to my family – you will have to go back and see what it really should be like!). Instead for a long time we would grimace at the poster on the wall inside the gondola mid-station with the #1 resort in the world slogan emblazoned in huge white letters. “Not this year.” I would think.
I leave the place though with many fond memories of powder days and time with friends, most of whom I hope will remain so for the years to come. Already I miss the snowboarding, it’s just so cool to roll out of bed, get your stuff and be at the top of a mountain less than an hour later! England sucks, they should build mountains there. And already I miss being there. You can’t prevent the advance of the seasons though… it was cool to see what a resort looks like through the entire cycle from being deserted at the start of the season to incredibly busy and back again, and to see the snow arrive and depart. Whenever I’ve been to a ski resort before you just kind of assume it’s like that all the time!
Anyway I’m babbling again, maybe I’ll finish this later (yes, finish – write even more), maybe I won’t, but I’ll depart with these poignant words.
Overall the experience proved to me that I still have a lot to learn, which is refreshing. Plus I think that now I’m actually domesticated, shock horror (well, kind of).