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‘He’s an anomaly’: 97-year-old skier still sending it

Gerry Reynolds still skis Whistler Blackcomb on a regular basis

According to Google, the average life expectancy for humans on Earth is just over 72 years. In Canada, that number is up at almost 82 years. Of course, it’s never a guarantee any of us will reach a ripe old age, and those who do often deal with a bevy of limitations as their bodies and minds wear down. 

Father Time remains undefeated, after all… but some people manage to hold him off longer than others.

Gerry Reynolds is among those rare few. Three years short of his 100th birthday, he can still be regularly sighted upon the slopes of Whistler Blackcomb.

“He’s an anomaly at 97, to still be skiing and actively involved in the sport,” said Gerry’s son, Rick. “I’m not sure if he's the oldest skier on the mountain today, but he still loves to get up there. He goes generally three to four times a week, and he loves to get together with his various friends.” 

Born in Nelson, B.C., Gerry moved to Vancouver with his family as a child and has lived on the North Shore for most of his lengthy life. Grouse Mountain had no lifts back in that era, which did not stop him from hiking up its inclines on a regular basis to enjoy the thrill fresh snow can provide. Having worked as a ski instructor at Grouse in his younger days, he returned to that field after retiring from his teaching career. 

“I’m not sure I would have skied back then because of having to hike up the mountain,” admitted Rick. 

Gerry has a girlfriend and a vibrant network of friends in Whistler. He routinely meets up with them for coffee around 10:30 a.m. in the Glacier Lodge. Having thus missed the morning rush, they proceed up Blackcomb Mountain—which remains his favourite peak—for a day of carving powder. 

‘Passionate about life’

Aside from his scattershot hearing, Gerry remains sharp as a tack both physically and mentally. 

Rick says the nonagenarian “has all his marbles” and is capable of navigating everyday life fairly independently. He’s a generous soul who loves using his woodworking skills to build presents or crafts for others. He sports a fully operational sense of humour and is rarely happier than when guests join him and his family for various social gatherings. 

During the holiday break, Gerry regaled a number of young men at a Christmas dinner with tales of skiing in his heyday. Back then, he took the streetcar to its northern terminus from Upper Lonsdale on Friday afternoons before hiking the rest of the way up Grouse Mountain. He’d come down on Sunday mornings for church, but head right back afterwards to maximize every daylight hour the weekend could offer. 

His guests were fascinated. They had no idea how much hard work it once took to get a few satisfying runs in. 

The full extent of Gerry’s impact on his family and community is difficult to put into words.

“In simple terms, he made [my sister Penny and I] appreciate how lucky we are to not only be in B.C., but to be involved in sports—the skiing, the sailing and the outdoors,” said Rick. “We’re just trying to be good citizens and appreciate everything we were given in life, not to mention the great opportunities of living in this province.”

At 68 years of age, Rick is no spring chicken himself. He’s certainly made the most out of his opportunities, with a career in the aquaculture feed industry behind him. These days, he runs his own side business helping companies acquire raw materials that go into aqua and pet food production. 

Whenever Rick isn’t working, however, it’s safe to bet he’s around Gerry.

“I’m extremely proud of my dad,” Rick said. “I'm always bragging about him, and I love to spend as much time as I can with him. All my friends are keen on getting out with him, whether it's on the golf course, or on the slope or out for a hike. He's very, very welcoming and just loves to be engaged. 

“He's still passionate about life, and that is a hell of a thing at his age.”

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