This week of 1984 includes some photos from Beer League Slo-pitch Banquet. For more photos of the trophies mentioned, take a look here – some of them are quite interestingly crafted.
Tag Archives: Lorne Borgal
To most non-advanced skiers Whistler’s Peak was completely inaccessible before 1986.
No panoramic view, no glimpse of the vast expanse of Garibaldi Park and no feeling of being on top of the entire mountain. This past month marked the 30th anniversary of the Peak Chair opening on Whistler Mountain. In 1986, the 1,000-metre lift was imported from Grand Junction, Colorado, at a cost of $900,000, costing $1.48 million overall.
Since 1980, Whistler Mountain had been struggling to make ends meet and part of the strategy behind adding the new lift was to broaden the appeal of Whistler to Lower Mainland skiers. Additionally, Whistler Mountain intended to keep pace with Blackcomb Mountain, which had opened their new T-Bar System and 7th Heaven in the high alpine in 1985. Just a year later, Whistler Mountain countered this opening of new high alpine terrain with their opening of the Peak Chair on December 22, 1986.
The official opening of the Peak Chair was attended by a few big names: Premier Bill Vander Zalm, Mayor Drew Meredith, Female Athlete of the 20th Century Nancy Greene-Raine, Mount Everest climber Sharon Wood, Whistler Mountain president Lorne Borgal and the event’s master of ceremonies Jim McConkey.
“For years, people have been climbing and skiing off the peak and hiking to the peak in summer,” said Nancy Greene-Raine in the original December 24, 1986 Whistler Question article. “It’s wonderful that now they’ll be able to ride p and ski it, with a little caution.”
The mayor cracked a joke at the idea of quick access to all those steep new runs: “I think this is something Lorne dreamed up while riding the Scream Machine at Expo (’86) last summer.”
As we know well today, there are some intense line choices available from Whistler’s Peak, some having gained legendary status in this town, like the cliff drop visible from Peak Chair known as “Air Jordan” and the Peak to Creek run, the longest groomer in North America at 5.5 km.
The chair was first opened only to advanced skiers due to the steepness of the terrain and the early season rock hazards. More than 70 skiers eagerly awaited the opening of the chair that day. Unfortunately, intermediate and beginner skiers still missed out on most of the runs coming down from the Peak; the only run accessible for non-advanced skiers was aptly named “Last Chance”.
Today we take for granted the opportunity to zip up to Whistler’s peak as easily as taking a seat on a chair. Give a brief pause to take in the stunning panoramic vistas when you’re up on Whistler’s peak this winter, and perhaps remember the work that went into making those views possible for every skier and snowboarder to experience without a treacherous hike up.
The Eighties are often remembered, fairly or unfairly, for questionable fashion and pop culture aesthetics, but here in Whistler it was a transformative era that saw the resort reach brand new heights. One of the key figures in Whistler’s rise during this period is Lorne Borgal, and we were lucky enough to have him participate in our recent Speaker Series soiree, plus he recorded an oral history interview with us, which help us outline some of his many contributions to Whistler.
Lorne arrived in Whistler in June 1980 with a fresh MBA from Stanford University, driving up from California within days of graduating. He had been hired by Hugh Smythe to help manage a nascent Blackcomb Mountain. As he recalls, “from accounting, marketing, sales, to any of the operating entities, ski patrol, lift operations or anything to be ready for opening day, on the operating side fell to me.” Needless to say, the days were long and the learning curve was steep.
All the business school in the world couldn’t have prepared him for having to wire the telephone lines himself when BC-Tel was on strike, or having to play traffic cop to help skiers get home to Vancouver after a busy day on the slopes. As is the case with so many of our resort’s leaders over the years, Lorne had an ingrained determination to get the job done by whatever means necessary.
As the following audio clip demonstrates, recorded during our December 2015 Speaker Series event, there was no shortage of challenges during Blackcomb Mountain’s early days:
After three seasons Lorne was ready to move on, but fate had other plans. While on vacation in Europe (his first vacation in three years), he received a phone call from Whistler Mountain marketing executive Mike Hurst (who, coincidentally, sat beside Lorne at the Speaker Series), informing Lorne that Franz Wilhelmsen was retiring and Lorne was being considered as his replacement as Whistler Mountain President. Lorne happily accepted the new job, but not before completing his Mediterranean tour.
Here he is at the the December 10,1983 ceremony dedicating the newly named Franz’s Run in honour of outgoing President Franz Wilhelmsen.
For the next six years Lorne oversaw the mountain during a period of intense competition with the upstart Blackcomb. He was at the helm of major projects such as the construction of Pika’s Restaurant – Whistler’s first proper on-mountain eatery, the visionary installatios of the original Peak Chair and the Village Gondola, leading international trade missions to expand the resort’s global reach, and updating Whistler Mountain’s management and customer service to keep up with a rapidly changing world.
Since leaving Whistler Mountain Lorne has served as an executive for a global software company, President of two other resorts, and continues to consult globally for upstart ski resorts around the world. His contributions to Whistler are most notably recognized up in the Whistler alpine, where Bagel Bowl refers to a playful nickname of his, “the Lone Bagel.”
Every decade of Whistler’s history has a unique story to tell. The 1960s saw the optimistic launch of a brand new ski resort, the 70s were the free-spirited days of squatters and ski bums, and the 80s were when Whistler really got down to business.
The construction of Whistler Village and the opening of Blackcomb Mountain in 1980 were instrumental to Whistler’s ascendance on the world stage. Intrawest’s mid-decade arrival and Rob Boyd’s heroic hometown victory in 1989, not to mention the arrival of alpine chairlifts, an influx of Japanese powderhounds, and a new era in resort-oriented marketing count among other major milestones.
Despite the grand vision of Whistler’s earliest boosters, it was during the 1980s that Whistler developed from a regional ski hill to a global destination resort.
The Whistler Museum is excited to announce the launch of our 2015/16 Speaker Series on Sunday December 13th with an evening discussion featuring key figures who oversaw Whistler’s transformation during this pivotal decade.
The evening’s presenters are as follows:
Lorne Borgal -Lorne’s Whistler career began in the 1970’s on the Volunteer Ski Patrol, and accelerated in June 1980 when, with a fresh Stanford MBA, he was hired to manage the business side of a nascent Blackcomb Mountain. Three years later he succeeded Franz Wilhelmsen as the second ever CEO of Whistler Mountain, and soon after that he took over as Chair of the Whistler Resort Association (predecessor to Tourism Whistler).
Mike Hurst – Mike’s first taste of Whistler came in 1971 while working as a marketing executive for Labatt’s Brewing. He quickly established a strong business relationship with the resort, but clearly it wasn’t enough. In the early 1980s he made the move to Whistler full-time, accepting a position in Whistler Mountain’s marketing department. He stayed with the resort through the decade, spearheading many groundbreaking promotional campaigns, and even running the Whistler Resort Association at one point, before returning to the iconic Canadian brewery in 1989.
Bob Dufour – As a ski instructor from Quebec’s Laurentian Mountains, Bob Dufour came west to work for the legendary Jim McConkey in 1972. Nearly 44 years later, Bob continues with Whistler-Blackcomb having worked under every president from Franz Wilhelmsen to Dave Brownlie and witnessing firsthand an incredible amount of change. He currently holds the position of Vice President – Mountain Operations.
With the panel’s wealth of knowledge and experience, this evening promises to be a compelling and enlightening look at an often overlooked period in Whistler’s history.
When: Sunday December 13th; Doors at 6pm, show 7pm-9pm
Where: Whistler Museum (4333 Main Street, beside the Library)
Cost: $10 regular price, $5 for museum members
We expect this event to sell out, so make sure to get your tickets early. To purchase tickets stop by the museum or call us at 604.932.2019.
About Whistler Museum’s Speaker Series:
More than mere repositories of old stuff, museums are institutions of ideas, venues where communities share, debate, and explore their thoughts on the world at large. To that end the Whistler Museum hosts regular Speaker Series events featuring presentations on a diversity of subjects: from the usual suspects of mountain culture and adventure travel, to the environment, design, current events, and beyond.
The 2015/16 season will run monthly, December-May. In celebration of Whistler-Blackcomb’s 50th anniversary, all of this year’s events will focus on ski and snowboard history.
These events offer the perfect opportunity for locals and visitors alike to encounter compelling stories in a relaxed and sociable atmosphere. All Speaker Series events have a cash bar and non-alcoholic refreshments. Coffee provided courtesy of the Whistler Roasting Company.