The magic of Whistler Blackcomb is so powerful that it has been known to influence logical, educated, strong-willed individuals into becoming lifers. These loyal snow souls live deep within the local scene. It takes more than just a whim to leave it all behind for resort life.  

Be it for sport, community or passion, one thing is certain – they stayed in Whistler because they believe in the magic. These snow souls showcase only a small portion of the spirits that make this town tick. From new souls to descendents of old souls past, we shared après slope side at the legendary Longhorn Saloon & Grill to find out what makes these colourful characters stick around year after year.

Here’s the second installment of our Whistler Snow Souls series.

Mercedes Nicoll
Job: Pro Snowboarder, three-time Olympian

How did you end up in Whistler? My parents moved to Whistler in 95’ when I was 12.

How would your friends describe you? Energetic, vivacious, giggly. I’m a ‘can’t sit still’ kind of girl.

Whistler or Blackcomb? I’m a Whistler girl.

Favourite run? Crab Apple.

Shred day tradition? I get ready to go as fast as humanly possible.

Describe your relationship with the mountains? It’s my boyfriend. It’s my life. I’m one with nature, creating art. It’s my personal outlet.

Describe your relationship with Whistler? Home.

Tell us something sparkly about Whistler? The snow.


Mercedes Nicoll. Photo courtesy of Lumin Pictures Inc.

J. Michael Varrin ‘The Reverend’
Job: GM Whistler/Blackcomb bars AKA The Prince of Darkness.

How did you end up in Whistler? In 88’ I was first poisoned with the Whistler idea. I moved here in 94’ for good.

How would your friends describe you? Generous, inclusive, irreverent.
 
Whistler or Blackcomb? It depends. If it was my last dying day run with friends, then Blackcomb.

Favourite run?
Hugh Sue Me.

Describe your relationship with the mountains? Energy. Whether it’s an alpine glow, full moon, sunrise….it’s all energy that is centering. The mountains will be here long after we are gone. It’s the flint. That is the religion of the mountain.

Describe your relationship with Whistler? We are a team, a tribe. Through thick and thin, tragedy and success, it’s all about how the tribe supports each other.

Tell us something sparkly about Whistler? Fact: Most people who choose to live in Whistler are the youngest born members of their family. It’s a survey I do. Whistler attracts the endless child.


J. Michael Varrin. Photo courtesy of Lumin Pictures Inc.

Kevin Banks AKA ‘Feet’
Job: Writer, Editor, Legend

How did you end up in Whistler? I came to conquer in 1988.

How would your friends describe you? Borderline obnoxious, in a good way. Way mellower than I used to be, optimistic.

Whistler or Blackcomb? Blackcomb.

Favourite run? It used to be School Marm but global warming f-ed that up. Now it’s West Cirque to Christmas Trees off Peak Chair.

Shred day tradition? Other than the usual traditions like hotbox a gondola or a shot of Fireball, it’s launching off ‘Feet’s Air’, the world’s smallest hit. Since 99’ I’ve been branding it my own jump, a 1ft perfect transition. I hit my own jump to get the day going.

Describe your relationship with the mountains? I love them. I lived on Francois Lake in B.C. and had to drive three hours to Smithers to ski before moving to Whistler when I was 12. I used to ask my parents why we didn’t go to church. Their response was … Sunday is a ski day. You can find what you are looking for on top of the mountain. You really find it in within yourself but you get what you need up there.

Describe your relationship with Whistler? Up and down. Generally positive, I’m lucky to have grown up here.

Tell us something sparkly about Whistler? There’s no better place in the old days.  Just
listen to The Eagles tune ‘The Last Resort’. It sings Whistler.


Feet Banks. Photo courtesy of Lumin Pictures Inc.

Janet Ouchterlony
Job: Mom + Entrepreneur

How did you end up in Whistler? I dropped out of Queen’s University in 92’ to come to Whistler and align with my own personal truth.

How would your friends describe you? That depends on who you ask. Kind, generous, a spirited go-getter.

Whistler or Blackcomb? I’m a Blackcomb girl but I do like changing it up.

Shred day tradition? If it’s an epic powder day I don’t wait around for people – I just chase it.

Describe your relationship with the mountains? Anything to do with nature is my church. The mountains free your mind. I love connecting with people on the chairlift and hearing their story.

Describe your relationship with Whistler? All love. I’m grateful and fortunate to have these mountains in my back yard.


Janet Ouchterlony.Photo courtesy of Lumin Pictures Inc.
 
Jo Guthrie
Job: Mountain Host

How did you end up in Whistler? I was a Physiotherapist at VGH and started as a weekend warrior in 1974. In 1976 I joined ski patrol. The original Creekside Ski Patrol cabin is not operational but still exists.

How would your friends describe you? Energetic and gregarious, I don’t stop.

Whistler or Blackcomb? Blackcomb.

Favourite run? Anything on Crystal Chair but I also love Upper Franz to Creekside.

Shred day tradition? I say thank you!

Describe your relationship with the mountains? Everything is spirit when you feel the beauty around you. It’s healthy.

Describe your relationship with Whistler? I enjoy a feeling of pleasure just being here. Creekside is the real Whistler, it’s where it all began. Cabins, great company, cohesive…an intense group of people who all wanted to ski here.


Jo Guthrie. Photo courtesy of Lumin Pictures Inc.

Jonathon Dobie
Job: Gibbons Music Man

How long have you been in Whistler? Since I was 8 years old, it was  a huge dream of mine to move to Whistler to snowboard.

How would your friends describe you? Passionate and very driven.

Whistler or Blackcomb? Whistler.

Favourite run? Peak to Creek – 11 kms – trees and side-hits.

Shred day tradition? No breakfast, hit the gondola, beer + friends.

Tell us something sparkly about Whistler? The people. They come from all around the world, represent colourful cultures and as a local you get to meet new people every year. Almost everyone here is overqualified. They are here because they want to be here.


Jonathon Dobie. Photo courtesy of Lumin Pictures Inc.

Liam Peyton
Job: Whistler Beer Fest lad

How did you end up in Whistler? I finished University in Birmingham and moved to Whistler in 08’ with a group of buddies. There are only three of us left.

How would your friends describe you? I like to think entertaining. Quick witted.

Whistler or Blackcomb? Blackcomb on a board. Whistler on skis.

Shred day tradition? First lift always. I put my music on and get wired. ‘Give me Shelter’ by Rolling Stones sets the mood and ‘Kick Start My Heart’ by Motley Crue when I’m going off.

Describe your relationship with Whistler? Home.


Liam Peyton. Photo courtesy of Lumin Pictures Inc.


After twelve hours of après on the Longhorn Saloon patio chasing down these snow souls of Whistler, I have concluded that this mission could take me days, weeks, months, perhaps even an entire season to fully complete. A special mention to all the snow stars we sadly missed. The list is lengthy and each Whistler local has a rad story. Beyond the magic of the mountains and the lavish luxuries of this resort is a collective group of sparkly snow souls that truly make this town tick. Generation after generation, the Whistler secret is simple. Love.