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It’s 50th Anniversary for Whistler – 15 January 2016

It is clear that if I write my autobiography now, there won’t be a great following, but then that is not a necessary and sufficient reason to deter the project, even though it is a terribly convincing one not to start it at this point in time.

For the fifth year running, Su and I checked in our own room at Whistler Hilton. It was cold and it had been snowing. Indeed, Whistler has collected so much good snow since November that its Christmas takings must have been phenomenal. We might even benefit from that at the end of the food chain.

Whistler is likely to be a feature in our life now; so I’d better learnt to like it and enjoy what it has to offer. After some research, Su decided last year to take on the seasonal passes and the unlimited lessons passes, implying that we would be here for a minimum number of days this season for the investment to break even. Looking on the bright side, we would spend more time together, in almost unpolluted air and scenic environment that would be the envy of any average city dweller. Besides, I would have the benefit of attending unlimited ski lessons which would definitely improve my skills, which can’t be bad.

On the first day, we found that our regular instructors could not take us on, for good reasons. Jim had had an accident which required him to be put on lighter duties, while Jungle had been fully booked for classes. In the end, we took Level Three lessons from a rather junior instructor who in fact was very pleased that we had turned up, for he would likely have no work for the day if we did not.

The Snow School in Whistler is a rather prestigious establishment worldwide. Instructors are not paid much, but people of all age have come from all parts of the world to seek jobs. Typically, once they are employed, they can attend free training sessions and become accredited instructors at higher levels if they are sufficiently competent. The result is that Whistler is overflowing with well qualified instructors. As an example, a very well known skiing establishment in Cypress, Vancouver would have only one Level Three Instructor on the ground, whereas Whistler would have over 20. It follows that new comers would have to make their mark either by improving their skiing skills or better still by improving their customer relations skills and training skills. Every morning, scores of instructors would assemble at Whistler Village near Gondola Upload Area waiting for students to turn up. The School has established criterion on student allocation, based on seniority of the instructors and their past or more relevantly their recent past performance with students. It follows that new instructors with no recent teaching experience (or students) would unlikely get jobs on an average day. Very often, they would turn up for the morning assembly and return home at 10 am, which was why the young instructor was very pleased that we turned up last minute.

We actually had him for two consecutive days. The third day was his day off and we had to go to a higher level class. We found out at lunch that the Instructor was only 19, and whose father was about 50. He was so surprised that I was close to 70; and he tried his best to conduct the sessions with poise and tact, having learnt from senior instructors such as Jim that we are old timers of the Snow School and that we would be around for classes by choice.

Today, we met another new young instructor who is in his second term in Whistler. He is my daughter’s age and his father is my age. He met his Japanese wife, who is also an instructor in Whistler last year. They got married and is about to have a family. He is therefore highly motivated to get work during the skiing season and in the summer months. He is a very good instructor and he understands our needs.

Our needs are pretty basic. We are here on vacation; we want to have a good time; and we want safe skiing. I had tried not to go beyond Level Three classes, but the system under which the School operates means that we must go to Level Four and beyond, implying that we had to work harder with our bodies.

We also found out that today is a rather special day for Whistler. As we skied into the Village at the end of the day, our progress was interrupted by kids and young ladies who were handing out cookies. I am not much of a cookie person, but I took one anyway, which was just as good. It turned out that today marks the 50th Anniversary of the establishment of the Whistler-Blackcomb company which runs the ski resort facilities including the Snow School.

On that historical note, I would sign off; and I hope to talk to you again shortly.

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