The Smiles Behind The Masks: Part 2

Armed with a face mask, gloves and a camera, Christie maintains a distance of 6ft (2m) as she photographs the smiles behind the masks. This week, she caught up with the dream team, four of our most fabulous female employees running a tight ship down at Whistler Base.

Wondering what those friendly faces in the lift lines look like behind their masks? They are Whistlerites here for their love of the mountains, often doing a job that is not necessarily atypical for their career. 

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

Meet Stephanie Wood, who goes by Steph. It’s her third winter here in Whistler. Craving a change from Aussie life, she hopped on a plane and moved to the land of endless trails and pow. Safe to say this was a great decision. Steph is an audio producer, by trade, who used to produce radio ads back in Australia. She was also in a pop punk band for a few years and released an EP on Spotify. Steph now works in the Guest Services division of PSS as a supervisor.

Hey Steph! What’s your favourite way down the mountain?

I really love the hike down from the peak chair in summer. It’s a killer view up top, and a super chill walk down. Plus High Note Trail – this one is because FLOWERS!  

What was your best day at work this year?

Every day is a good day! When you get to laugh every day and enjoy banter to the max, you can’t go wrong!

Can you tell us what’s happening in your photo?

I believe it was the first snow of the season and I was ridiculously stoked to be back in Canada!

Next up we have Abaigh Collins (pronounced Abby), who has been in Whistler since October 2016. Also lured from Australia, she was drawn in by the skiing and the colder weather. Her favourite run is Harmony Piste on Whistler – a classic. Abaigh is the assistant manager in Product Sales and Scanning. 

Hey Abaigh! Can you tell us about your best day at work this year?

Last week, when I went up for a quick lap in the morning and halfway up the Creek Gondola we broke through the clouds. It was sunny,  beautiful and the entire valley was covered in a layer of clouds. We’re here for the mountains right?!

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

We love these mountains as much as you do and we want you to be able to enjoy them. We want to help you, so please work with us and ask questions!! This year has put stress on us all that no one could prepare for. We’re feeling it too, so please be kind and respectful and we will treat you the same. We need to be gentle with one another while we wait this out.

Tell us about what is happening in the photo you shared with us.

I took it for a university project (doing a master’s degree part-time online), so I got myself all dressed up and took a headshot to go on a presentation. Felt silly, but it also meant I got to see the faces of the group I was working with for the first time.

Meet ​Elke Andrusko, whose first season was 2010/2011. She’s been spending the last decade chasing winters going back and forth between Whistler and Mt Hotham in Australia.  

Elke first came here for the skiing and fell in love with the summers. She’s spending this winter as store manager of G1 Rentals. Her favourite area of Whistler is the gladed zone on Symphony, and she’s a big fan of the traditional Peak to Creek run down to Dusty’s for a cold one on her days off. 

Hey Elke! How does this year differ to your usual style of work? 

​No day is the same. I might start the day out helping in the lift lines at the base area, then head back into my store once the morning upload rush is over and end up helping out in another location by the end of the day. It’s great to get to know employees from different divisions and get an insight into how other areas of the company operate.

What was your best day at work this year? Working the lift lines on Christmas Day. It’s always hard being so far away from home on the holidays, but being out in the heart of it at Whistler Gondola with Christmas music playing and guests in good spirits made the day that much better.

Tell us about what is happening in the photo you shared with us.

I don’t think I have ever been prouder of myself than I am in this photo. Panorama Ridge was the first big hike I had attempted in Whistler and even though it wasn’t easy, the views made it worthwhile.

Last but not least, we have Lexie Otis, Whistler Resident since 2001. Boasting a yellow belt in Taekwondo, Lexie moved here to pursue snowboarding in the Coast Mountains. You can find her cruising Ridge Runner (Blackcomb) or Flute Bowl (Whistler). Technically, Lexie is the Retail / Rental – Can Ski Westin Store Manager, but you’ll often see her helping out in the lines during the morning rush. Pictured in her photo is her two young boys on a hike in Murrin Provincial Park. 

Hey Lexie! How does this year differ from usual for you? 

We are experiencing more support and collaboration with divisions outside of Retail/Rental, all with the common goal and focus of keeping guests and staff safe and the mountain open. 

What was your best day at work this year?

When the mountain opened. All the detailed prep work and training paid off.  We saw so many happy people coming off the hill.

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

Mask up, sanitize, distance and have fun! We need your help to keep everyone safe and businesses open.