An Eastbournian Abroad with Ashley McMillan: Time to improve... and time to heal

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Wow! That was a quick kick up the backside and a prompt reminder of just how busy things can be around Whistler once we really get into the winter season.

The long weekend (at least officially for our American friends) last week was US Thanksgiving and saw many, many a folk use the opportunity to escape to the hills for a long weekend break and check out all the snow.

In truth, it wasn’t really all that busy, but seeing how quiet things have been over the past couple of months, it would have been an eye opener for many. Unfortunately, as is often the case, it also served to demonstrate that many operations and businesses in town have yet to ‘fully’ train their staff and smooth out all the little ‘kinks’ in the service.

Always frustrating to be on the receiving end of this, but nothing new when you realise that much of the workforce around the shops, restaurants and hotels are fairly new to town. Reminds me a little of the winter Olympics here when they ‘hired’ hundreds of volunteers (can you be ‘hired’ if you’re volunteering??), all dressed in their ‘smurf’ outfits as we all called them. They were stationed all around the Olympic venues and throughout Whistler and were there to be a contact point for information. Problem was, they were all from out of town and didn’t know where anything was!!!

Now this weekend there’ll be some star spotting going on…or at least some people will have a keen eye on the look out hoping to catch a glimpse of someone famous. It’s the annual film festival and it’s getting just a little bigger and better every passing year. Still really in it’s infancy; it has a master plan to place itself firmly on the world stage alongside Cannes, Toronto and Sundance….and it’s getting there.

I guess we’ll find out soon enough who makes it into town, but once again, it’s exactly the kind of event that does and will bring a big crowd in to fill up the beds and restaurants. That coupled with the fact that there’s heaps of powder all over the mountain, with more skiable terrain open at this time of the year than pretty much any other resort and blue skies in the forecast, yep, it’ll be a busy weekend!

So will the operations and service have improved this weekend? We’ll see, but I have my doubts. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that the service is that bad, not at all. It’s just that when you know just how good things will be in a month or two when everyone has got settled into their new jobs and undertaken the various processes and procedures a thousand times over, it can be just a tad frustrating.

On a personal note, I’m finding the amount of snow that still keeps finding us down here in the village, just a mite annoying. Now I realise it’s something of a cardinal sin around these parts to curse the snow, but there we go. I have my reasons, namely this darn air-cast that I can’t seem to ever really get off my foot for any sustained period of time.

Just spent nearly 5 weeks in the boot after my one true passion (other than my wife – I’m safe, she’ll never read this!) running, decided to give me a real kick in the butt when I developed a stress fracture. Itching to regain my fitness levels and sharpness quickly I took the doc’s advice and actually slowly started to build my distances up once more – honest, I took it easy (believe me, I wanted nothing more than to lace up and run a few quick 10-15 milers to reacquaint myself with my running addiction).

Then after about 10 days inside on the treadmill I snapped and had to go and run outside. Long story short, ran too far, too soon on the hard asphalt and bam! Set myself back a few weeks with the original fracture and also a suspected new very early stage stress fracture of a metatarsal – Back in the boot. Let me tell you, it’s more than a little challenging at times to get around Whistler in winter with one of these great cumbersome bricks on your feet. So much so that having had a couple of relaxation ales the other night, I had a bit of an altercation with a snow bank – long story, but I got a quick shock when I saw myself in the mirror early the next morning!

So, in summary; It’s going to be a sunny, beautiful weekend, very busy, possibly one or two celebs, service could be better and I’m going to be whinging about hobbling around in the snow and ice – can’t wait!