The Smiles Behind the Masks: Part 1

Armed with a face mask, gloves and a camera, Christie maintains a distance of 6ft (2m) as she photographs the smiles behind the masks.  

These are the people who are working the frontlines of Whistler Blackcomb this season, doing a job that is not necessarily atypical for their career. They’re doing it through their love for this town, protecting our people, and a true passion for keeping our ski hill open.  

Maze Mascots, Lineup Legends, whatever we call them, we are immensely grateful to our staff working in the queues to keep everyone safe!  

This is Murray ’The Murrman’ Hunt, Whistler local for 17 years. He came for the skiing and stayed for the biking. A confessed Blackcomb Mountain devotee, he also builds guitars(!) and is part of the band The Combat Dolphins.  
His official title? Area Manager for Vail Resorts Retail, working with Can-Ski and our Clearance Stores. While every year is different, this year is more different than most for Murray. Christie caught up with him to ask some questions.  

Hey Murray! What was your best day at work this year? 

Every day since opening day. It’s so great to see the lifts spinning and people sliding on snow again.  

How does this year differ to your usual work? 

We’ve been having lots of fun supporting the mountain operations teams with line greeting and chipping in wherever we’re needed. There’s a tremendous amount of shared passion for our goal of getting open and staying open this season. We are all working incredibly hard to provide our guests with a safe and enjoyable experience. 

Favorite run on the mountain? 

Everyone in the know skis Blackcomb.  Zigzag is always reliable for some great mid-mountain skiing. 

Meet Phil Swann, another one of our legendary lineup staff.  
Having been in Whistler for four years, he skis and snowboards and lives here for the awesome expanse of ski and bike terrain.  
Phil’s job is Store Manager of Essentially Blackcomb, but he spends most of his mornings out helping in the lift lines as the rental side of the store is now closed.  

Hey Phil, how does this year differ from usual for you?  
I’ve never spent so much time outdoors in a winter season. I’ve learnt so much about the way things run outside of my store and worked with so many new people along the way. I can have way more of an impact in keeping people safe outside than I can in the store. 

What was your best day at work this year? 

The busiest ones. When the lift lines go down the stroll, it’s challenging to hustle more staff out so we can keep people safe and answer everyone’s questions. Those are tough days, but so many people say thank you and appreciate what we are all doing. 

If you could share one thing with our guests, what would it be? 

We all depend on the mountain staying open this season. Our rules are very basic and easy to comply with. Please keep doing it, so we can enjoy the rest of winter… then summer! 

Yes, you read it right, this is ”Whistler” working hard to protect Whisterites in Whistler. Phew, what a mouthful.  
Whistler hails from Kingston, Ontario and has paused his studies to enjoy a winter season out West. Having skied since the age of four, his favorite areas to ski so far are West Cirque and West Bowl off Whistler Peak.  
As an integral part of the Base Ops team, Whistler is on hand to sanitize high-touch areas, shovel snow, and keep the floors clean to ensure a safe environment for everyone. 

Hey Whistler, what’s different about this year for you? 
Things like staggered start times at work to ensure we can all social distance, capacity restrictions in company trucks, and paying extra attention to always washing and sanitizing my hands every chance I get definitely differ from what I was used to, but it didn’t take too long to adjust to the new normal. 

This is also my first job outside of Ontario, so having the ability to enjoy the mountains when I’m not at work is a nice change. 

What was your best day at work this year? 

Probably New Year’s Day because of the double time pay. 

If you could share one thing with our guests, what would it be? 

Take advantage of outdoor activities this winter. Amid the pandemic, it’s a great time to try not only skiing and snowboarding, but cross-country skiing, tubing, or skating there are all sorts of great safe options. 
Fun fact: At age 8, Whistler won a fantasy hockey pool against a group of grown men. This guy is going places! 

Stay tuned for part 2, coming soon!