MY WHISTLER - Celebrated Ski Racer Shifts Gears




Rob Boyd’s World Cup downhill victory in 1989 has been hailed by many as the greatest sporting moment in Whistler’s history — even surpassing the Olympic gold medals won by locals Ross Rebagliati, Maelle Ricker and Ashley McIvor DeMerit, because it happened right here in town. By all accounts, the post-Boyd World Cup victory celebration also ranks among the best Whistler parties ever, in a town known for great soirées.

Boyd, now 53, is still reminded of that day almost everywhere he goes — including at this past winter’s 30th anniversary celebration, attended by more than 200 people at Dusty’s in Creekside, the same venue as the original shindig.

“I would call it [the 30th anniversary gathering] a reunion of folks who, in a lot of cases, I hadn’t seen for many years,” Boyd said. “It brought some of the good ol’ heart and soul of Whistler back together again. Anytime someone brings up that day, I go into, ‘Where were you, what part of the course were you on?’ So, with all the witnesses who were there, I think I’ve managed to populate the whole course.”

In 2018, Boyd — who had been coaching skiing in various capacities since he retired from the Canadian team in 1997 — made a big career move, stepping down as the Whistler Mountain Ski Club’s head coach for a position in real estate. While he continues to coach at various camps, Boyd says he won’t miss having to upload the gondola at 7 a.m. and sometimes working well into the evening. It has given him more time with his wife Sherry and their sons Dylan, 13, and Evan, 12.

“I love ski racing and giving back to the sport, but there are a lot of long hours,” he said of full-time ski coaching. “My boys are skiing, and I was really limited in what I could do with them. With this job I can make up my own schedule a little bit more.”

You first came to Whistler when you were 16. How and why did your parents decide to move here, and what were those late teen years like for you?

Due to some tough times for my parents in Vernon (the closing of our family ski hill Tillicum Valley), my dad came to work for Whistler Ski Corp. in 1981-’82. My mom, sister and I came along in the summer of 1982 and moved into a rental on Needles Drive in Alpine. Those teen years could be a novel as they were quite formative years. I attended high school for two years at Pemberton High — riding the bus there and back each day, a few times riding my road bike for fitness training. I qualified for the B.C. Ski Team in ’82 and did a few training camps — one up on the Peak, hiking each day from the top of the Red Chair to the T-bar that they used to set up in Glacier Bowl each summer. I went to Mount Hood for the first time for a special Canadian team prospect camp where that crew of Brian Stemmle, Mike Carney, Rob Bosinger were first recognized as potential national team material. They were right! The next few years were a blur of ski racing, travelling around the continent and to Europe, but I was always very excited to come home to ski the amazing mountains and snow of Whistler!

In your brief Wikipedia profile, it says your sister inspired you to pursue ski racing. How so?
Susan was a “hot dogger” and I would follow her around and try to mimic the things she did — from moguls to jumps to ballet. She inspired me to do my first flips, 360s, and I (sort of) mastered the 720 before she did! So, she encouraged me to pursue skiing rather than steal any of her thunder in freestyle.

It’s been 30 years since your celebrated World Cup victory. Do you still enjoy reliving it with others?
Yes, I still enjoy reliving it. Every time I meet someone new who was at that race (or watched it from some foreign country), I am intrigued to hear what their take was on it, how it made them feel and how it influenced others around them.

Favourite Whistler summertime activities?
Used to be windsurfing, mountain biking, motorbiking, rock climbing; but today, to keep up with my boys it’s still mountain biking, (much of that in the Bike Park), some motor biking and enjoying the lakes — swimming or paddleboarding.

Favourite Whistler hangout?
Where my friends and family like to hang out. Some days it may be the lakeside parks, others it may be the bike park, but a good sunny patio for a cold frosty one at the end of a day is hard to beat. And Dusty’s is very convenient for that ... great sun, ambience and usually a little less crowded than some of the Village spots.

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