PEOPLE OF WHISTLER BLACKCOMB
They say that people make the place. And while Whistler Blackcomb is blessed with absolutely mind-blowing scenery and natural beauty as far as the eye can see, there are countless individuals so steeped into the unique mountain culture here, that truly bring this place to life. Check out some of their stories below, though this list barely even scratches the surface, and be inspired to meet them someday soon.
Steve Ramey – New Head Chef of Christine’s
Whistler’s fine dining scene has a new member; Steve Ramey, and as an avid climber, hiker, runner, snowboarder, and kayaker, he’s well suited to life in the mountains. As the new chef at Christine’s, Ramey will bring the culinary prowess he honed as the Sous-Chef at Vancouver’s renowned Hawksworth Restaurant to Whistler Blackcomb.
Ramey was awarded his Culinary Apprenticeship and Inter-provincial Red Seal in 2007; and in August 2003, he was the top apprentice in his class. He started with the Hawksworth Group in 2011 and was responsible for menu development. Under his watch, Hawksworth has been consistently named as Vancouver’s top restaurant, and one of the best restaurants in Canada.
LEANING IN – SKI PATROL SUPERVISOR TRACEY MORRISON
Tracey Morrison is new in her position as the Whistler Blackcomb Ski Patrol Supervisor, but she started her Ski Patrol career at Lake Louise in 1996. She moved to Whistler in 2000 to work for the Blackcomb Ski Patrol, and hasn’t looked back. Working as a Ski Patroller and technical specialist in associated industries, Tracey has acquired extensive experience. During her ascent through the Ski Patrol ranks Tracey has accomplished mastery in the technical elements of the job. Tracey has accreditation as an Avalanche Forecaster through the Canadian Avalanche Association (CAA), Rope Access technician (SPRAT), Longline Helicopter Rescue Technician (HETS), and level one Ski Guide (CSGA) to name a few. Her tenacious desire to learn new skills, achieve excellence and challenge herself has brought her to receive accolades from her peers and managers. Couple that with being a working mom who leaves her home in Pemberton at 5:30am every day to get to her job, you have a woman that embodies the Whistler spirit of working hard to play hard.
Capturing The Essence Of Whistler Blackcomb - Mike Douglas
Can’t stop thinking about Whistler Blackcomb? Blame Mike Douglas. The professional freeskier has called Whistler home for over two decades and in that time Mike has been instrumental in the progression of freeskiing and has helped position Whistler Blackcomb as one of the best mountain resorts in the world within global ski media.
Douglas’s role has always flowed back and forth from athlete in front of the lens to filmmaker behind the lens.
“I made my first film in 1986 as a high school project and then in 1992 I did my first commercial work by creating ‘how to’ ski videos for Japan,” says Mike. “When I was younger though, I didn’t have a desire to be a filmmaker. I wanted to be the athlete doing it, not the filmmaker watching it all happen.”
“Now, through the course of 20 plus years as a pro skier, I have gotten to ski and do the all of the things I dreamed of. As I get older, I see more challenge and interest in moving over to the filmmaking side and so more and more of my energy and focus is going to Switchback Entertainment.”
As the global hub of mountain culture, it is no surprise Whistler Blackcomb plays a starring role in Mike’s work.
“Whistler is where things happen. There is no more vibrant and active mountain community on earth as far as I am concerned,” says Mike when asked about Whistler’s impact on his career. “This place is spectacular but the greatest inspiration is from the people you get to work with. Whistler feels like the New York City of the mountain world. If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.”
Most recently, Switchback Entertainment created Whistler Blackcomb’s Big Picture campaign, a 4-part documentary series looking at important questions facing the ski industry. Watch Now »
Switchback: switchbackentertainment.com »
The Man Behind The Parks – Brian Finestone
Brian Finestone is the man with the vision when it comes to Terrain Parks at Whistler Blackcomb. Every rail, every jump and every jib has his stamp of approval on it. He leads the Parks Crew on their quest for grooming perfection all winter long and his ideas are crucial to the progression of the sport at WB. Since he’s such a big deal around here, we thought we’d ask him a couple of questions:
What originally brought you to Whistler?
I planned to take a year off from University to shred and shoot photos to get it “out of my system”, it is now 20 years later and I’m still not quite sure if it is out so I better stick around to make sure.
How long have you been skiing/snowboarding for?
Skiing since Glen Plake had his first Mohawk and snowboarding before it was allowed on ski hills.
How did you begin working in the Terrain Parks at Whistler Blackcomb?
I inherited the Parks program from Stu Osborne who selfishly held onto it for 14 years before handing it over (kidding) I rode the original hand shoveled ditch halfpipe on Blackcomb in the early 90’s and jumped on the job when it came up.
What is your favourite feature in the Park?
I am a fan of the pipe. I never get tired of riding pipe and there is always something to learn no matter how old and stiff I get.
What is your vision for the future of Parks at Whistler Blackcomb?
I would love to take parks out of the Parks and see regular ski runs groomed with more rollers, transitions and fun features so they flow more. I also want to create the best training facility for athletes so the progression of slopestyle, pipe and cross grow organically from here and we see more of the world’s best athletes come out of Whistler Parks.
WB’s Environmental Pioneer - Arthur DeJong
As Whistler Blackcomb’s long-time environmental advocate, Arthur DeJong knows better than anyone the ecological wonder that is Whistler Blackcomb, and firmly believes that the more interaction humans have with the natural environment, the more likely they are to preserve it. His 30+ years with the company have been spent in various roles including Ski Patrol Manager and Mountain Operations Manager for Blackcomb, enabling him to gain an exceptional familiarity with mountain terrain and a deep understanding of the workings of the mountain ecosystem.
Arthur pioneered work in the area of environmental planning on Whistler Blackcomb, which led him to his current position of Mountain Planning and Environmental Resource Manager. In this role, Arthur works to marry planning techniques that both improve the guest experience and respect the natural environment. Sounds fairly straightforward on paper, and that’s probably how Arthur likes it to sound, but we’re going to boast a little on his behalf. Through years of tenacious hard work, Arthur has spearheaded countless projects to slowly move Whistler Blackcomb towards its ambitious goal of reaching a zero operating footprint. Two of his more notable projects include:
- The Fitzsimmons Creek micro-hydro project that currently produces the equivalent amount of power to match Whistler Blackcomb’s annual energy consumption, leading the resort to be awarded the Golden Eagle Award, the highest achievement given for environmental stewardship in the ski industry;
- The Symphony Express Chairlift Project, which placed habitat protection as the central aim of the project, helping Whistler Blackcomb to receive the Tourism British Columbia Award for Environmentally Responsible Tourism in 2006, and a Silver Eagle award in 2007.
Arthur has been an active member of the Whistler community for many years and believes that the key to effective planning is openness and community involvement. Arthur is currently active in numerous community social and environmental groups. He also dedicates volunteer time to crisis line counselling and international aid programs.
A taste of the Alps comes to Whistler Blackcomb - Wolfgang Sterr
Wolfgang Sterr joined Whistler Blackcomb as Executive Chef in 2011. “I fell in love with the country and its people,” he remembers. In a back-and-forth cross-Canada shuffle between the four diamond Sherwood Inn in Muskoka, Ontario, the Fairmont Chateau Whistler, and then back to Ontario’s wine region to follow his dream of opening his own restaurant built on sustainability, local products, energy reduction, great wine and food, Wolfgang gained valuable experience under some of the best in the biz.
Returning to Whistler for a visit in March 2010 made Wolfgang realize that life has more to offer than just work and the mountains called out to him to return. And in a twist of fate whereby one truly recognizes they’re on the right path, his restaurant sold, a job offer came from Whistler Mountain to run the Roundhouse lodge (one of north America’s largest mountain top restaurants), and nine months into the journey, he was promoted to Whistler Blackcomb’s Executive Chef to help lead the massive Food and Beverage division including 18 on and off mountain restaurants.
Sterr has since lead the charge on a number of major changes to Whistler Blackcomb’s food and beverage program. His passion for the environment and a plant-based diet lead to Raven’s Nest becoming a vegetarian/vegan restaurant, which is the first of its kind in North America. Sterr moved all Whistler Blackcomb restaurants towards fresher ingredients and made-to-order dishes, sourcing locally as often as possible and giving guests healthy options for fuelling up.