Mountain madness; perry schmunk and the wb merger

     
"Love is whatever you can still betray. Betrayal can only happen if you love sầu." – John Le Carré They came for the mountains. The snow. The crazy, wild people who called this place home page. Whatever.

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"Love sầu is whatever you can still betray. Betrayal can only happen if you love sầu."

– John Le Carré

They came for the mountains. The snow. The crazy, wild people who called this place trang chính. Whatever. Suddenly everyone wanted lớn be a part of Whistler. It was like being a member of some exotic tribe lost in the coastal bush — apparently the civilized world had just discovered our twin-mountain magic. And anyone who spent time here in the early 1990s knows exactly what I mean.

Imagine. Rob Boyd had just won a World Cup downhill in his baông xã yard. Trevor Peterson và Eric Pehota were laying ski tracks in the most outlandish of mountain places. Paul Morrison & Greg Griffith were shooting photos like there was no tomorrow. And Greg Stump, well, he was filming it all for posterity.

Whistler was thriving. Whistler was humming. Whistler was finally living up to all the dreams and promises & hopes that its people had entertained for nearly 30 years. The infrastructure was in place. The recent recession was now a bad memory. And the snow just kept falling and falling. It was the best of all worlds.

Picture it. Two different mountain operations — two complementary cultures — it was everything a ski bum could want. Family-owned Whistler Mountain on the right — with its meandering trails and laissez-faire management; while on the left, hard-charging Blackcomb, with its falline runs and a nhà wc stall for every derrière. So much competition. Such finely-tuned rivalry. And the winner? Every rider who ever phối foot in this valley.

But it was the inspired silliness of its inhabitants that really phối this place apart. I remember watching Arthur DeJong after a trùm cuối storm, binoculars around his neông xã, exhorting his charges lớn open the upper Blackcomb lifts before the neighbours could open theirs on Whistler. Or what about the stunts the two patrol teams pulled on each other? Mad. Mad. Mad...

No wonder Perry Schmunk was excited when he first arrived here in 1991. "I thought I"d died and gone to lớn mountain heaven," exclaims the recently elected mayor of Tofino.

For those who missed last week"s missive sầu, hizzoner is the rarest of snow-sliding creatures. A non-skiing flatlander at 18, he raised himself up khổng lồ the highest certification màn chơi in Canadian ski teaching in less than four years. By the time he hit 26, he was the new training coordinator for the Blackcomb Ski School. And that was just for starters.

The guy was full of ideas. Never stopped thinking. Never stopped doing. He also delivered results. The school was a cash cow, & Perry knew exactly how to lớn milk her. But the mountain always came first. I mean, this guy ate, drank và breathed skiing. Passionate doesn"t even come cthua kém. No surprise then, that by 1993-94, Schmunk was running the whole darn shebang.

And again, skiers won. On Whistler, Dave Murray & Don Barr and Otto lớn Kaamstra were turning on people to skiing lượt thích dealers selling dope. On Blackcomb, it was Schmunk and his team doing their part. Yet both mountain programs were ridiculously successful. Everyone was happy.

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"It was such an exciting time to be involved," explains Schmunk. "The word "No" didn"t exist back then. Come up with a good idea — find a way lớn pay for it — and you pretty much had all the authority you needed lớn get it done."

Times were changing however. By the winter of 1998, Intrawest had swallowed up both hills. And Whistler culture felt the hit. What was once a spunky mountain village entirely committed khổng lồ sliding on snow was inexorably slipping into company-town bondage. Meanwhile the resort"s artificially bloated real estate was being pushed on whoever could pay the inflated prices. You know, kinda lượt thích those Floridomain authority homes with the Disney Park in the backyard.

But where was I? Oh yeah — Schmunk. Boy wonder. Tireless worker. Respected by his staff. Esteemed by his colleagues. You know, a glass-half-full kindomain authority guy. Take a listen. "Sure, we were rivals baông chồng when Whistler Mountain was still independent," remembers Otto Kaamstra. "But Perry was always straight-up with me. He even hired an instructor I had to lớn let go once — with my blessings." He stops. Chuckles. "I could fire a guy, but in those days he had an option."

It"s not like Schmunk was perfect. His marriage had hit the rocks. His young daughter was caught in the middle. And he"d struggled with that. But otherwise? Surprisingly few wobbles. So when the merger was announced, our man blithely threw his toque into the management ring. He figured it was between hyên và Don Barr. Kaamstra as a dark horse maybe. Forget about it. The new Whistler-Blackcomb Ski School trùm was a former soft-goods guy who, to be honest, didn"t really lượt thích skiing all that much.

"I was really disappointed with their decision," admits Schmunk. "Don decided lớn quit. Maybe that"s what I should have sầu done. But I didn"t. I swallowed my ego và accepted my new duties as head of the adult ski school."

Sadly, there"s no room here lớn go inlớn detail about what happened next. Let"s just say the soft-goods guy didn"t really work out.

Great, thought Perry. Another chance. So he applied for the top job again. And this is where it gets really weird. "I remember walking in for my interview," he tells me. "I have sầu my resume in hvà, ready to lớn present my WB successes: exponential growth in revenue and contribution, solid proven leadership — all that stuff." His voice is tense now. Edgy. He continues: "I"m feeling pretty confident, you know. Top of my game. But just as I"m about lớn sit down I"m told "We"re not interviewing you for the job." What? What bởi vì you mean, I ask. You don"t even know me." Too bad. Not interested. Next. "And that was all I got. I rethành viên walking bachồng lớn my office just stunned...."

For Schmunk, the last act had begun. "I should have sầu known right then," he says. And then sighs deeply. "But I"m a team player. And I was so much in love sầu with Whistler in those days that I chose lớn ignore the signs."

But the signs were conflicting too. His staff-assessment scores were so high in "99 that he was accused of "running a love-in at the ski school." Didn"t matter that, as he says: "my results were aý muốn the very best in the entire Intrawest chain — both in terms of financial contribution and number of staff." For whatever reason — too much ambition, too little humility, too big a threat, Perry was never told why — his time at Whistler was quickly coming to lớn an kết thúc.

And when it did, it hit hlặng lượt thích a two-by-four lớn the head. "So I walk in for my 2000 year-kết thúc Review," he recounts. "I"m expecting the usual, you know..." He stops. The moment is etched in his memory. Like acid. "Instead I get a White envelope." Say what? In one horrific moment — in one sharp breath of air — Perry"s worst fears were realized. He remembers walking zombie-like across Fitzsimons" Creek after the meeting. Stopping and puking over the bridge. What was he going to lớn vì with his life now?

This is what was written in the note in the trắng envelope: "Due to a difference in leadership styles this letter is khổng lồ insize you that your employment at Whistler Blackcomb has ended effective May 1, 2000."

And that"s all the explanation he ever received. Schmunk tried everything to salvage his job. Pleaded his case, talked lớn anyone in the corporation who would listen (few would return his calls). Desperate for any straw, he approached a lawyer about a wrongful dismissal suit. All the company owes you, said his lawyer, is severance. And that"s all he got.

Yeah, so? Sad story & all.

But what"s the big deal? New management. New style. The guy just didn"t fit in and he was let go. Happens all the time. End of chapter. Move sầu on.

But wait. That"s exactly my point. Sure, that may be the way things are done in big, impersonal corporations where employees are chewed up và spit out at will. But this is Whistler. We"re supposed khổng lồ be a mountain community. Not just a corporation. We"re supposed khổng lồ be all about people here. We"re supposed to be more sensible than that.

But I digress. Perry refused to become a victim. Though it felt lượt thích hell while he was living it, his sudden dismissal forced him khổng lồ leave the mountains he loved & really dig deep inside himself lớn find a solution. Fortunately for Tofino (và not, alas, for Whistler), he developed a new line of work emulating his long-ago mentors at the Post Hotel. All he learned from the Schwartz brothers high up in the Rockies — all that authentic, styly, hands-on stuff they so valued — he"s now applying to lớn hosting people on one of the most beguiling stretches of coastline on this immense xanh planet. As I said, lucky Tofino. But we"ll hear about all that next week. Stay tuned...


Chuyên mục: Tin Tức