Whistler writer Leslie Anthony went looking for Ogopogo for Explore magazine last year, and placated himself re: his failed quest to find the Great Lake Snake by recalling the words of a famous sasquatch hunter:
Although he spent huge amounts of time and money searching for the creature, in a moment of startling candour he’d told an interviewer: ‘It sure would be a shame if we actually found one. Without Bigfoot out there, there’s no such thing as wilderness left.’
In some ways, snow is as mystical a thing as Sasquatch and the Ogopogo… Although we can see it, we can’t contain it, we can’t control it, and there’s no guarantee we’ll find it when we go looking — at least, not in bliss-inducing condition. Snow is fleeting, more ephemeral than even our blog posts, gaining its power to seduce from that very transience…
Granted, we do our best to convince ourselves that we can contain it, control it, guarantee it… For example, Whistler Blackcomb has prepared for 2010 by doubling its arsenal of snow guns to 269, adding another 12 million gallons in water storage capacity to Whistler’s 20 million-gallon reservoir. This is all part of the preparation for the Winter Olympic Games – pre-production work that involves more than prayer, although the success of the production will ultimately depend as much on the snow- and weather-gods as anything else.
Many of the key people who are preparing Whistler and Vancouver venues for the Games are hard-core snowmen. They love snow. Have bookshelves loaded with treatises on the stuff. They make it, blow it, dig it, groom it, carve it… They’re disciples, really, feeding their obsession all winter long, chasing it around the world…
I talked to several of them for Thursday’s National Post article, Olympics won’t be thwarted by fickle snow gods, and for all the differences in their personalities and professions, they all have a marked reverence for the white stuff – a love and fear melted in together.
“Snow is a marvellous material to work with,” said Joe Fitzgerald, the freestyle skiing race director for the International Ski Federation, before correcting himself, confessing: “Actually, it’s scary. It’s messy. It metamorphosizes so fast.”
For snow sculptor Carl Schlichting, “Part of the territory of working in this medium is knowing that it’s not going to last,” he says. “But you don’t think about that very often.”
You can’t. You just have to lose yourself in what you’re doing.