Each winter there’s one place you know you can find Art Buchanan, and that is the ski hill.
A former hockey player, he made the switch from skates to skis after many trips up the mountain as he brought his children up to ski.
At the time you needed chains to get up the mountain and so if he was making that long a trip anyways, why not try it?
“I had to drive up the hill, so I might as well stay up the hill,” he remarked.
So he strapped himself into some skis and had some of the regulars show him the basics: how to turn, how to stop and down he went.
Thirty-five years later, he’s still hooked.
“So I quit hockey, and went up the ski hill,” Buchanan said.
As a rookie there were some rough times, he admitted, but you do seem to learn and now, while he wouldn’t say he’s the number one skier, he’s definitely an accomplished one. And he’s still got his support group for those tricky days, he said.
When Smithers established its own racing team, Buchanan was instantly in. The sense of community on the hill has always been strong, so naturally he’d do all he could to help promote the team. He would drive them, 10 boys and two girls, all the way around our beautiful province: from Kamloops to Whistler, wherever they needed to go to compete.
“It was a big deal,” Buchanan said. “It was a big undertaking, but a nice deal. Most of them are still here, I still see them around, which is pretty cool. The friendship is there.”
The hill sure has changed, he said. For one, he hasn’t used chains in over five years to get up there, which is nice. There’s also a wider variety of runs he can choose to go down. When he first started, it was just the t-bar; nothing, he said, had been developed on the side that faced the town.
But it’s always been such a fun and social sport, an aspect he’s enjoyed all these years.
“Everyone just wanted to have a good time,” Buchanan said.
Having that key group of friends who go up with you, even now, has been part of the driving force behind his obtaining a season’s pass every year. Every week, you can find him there on Thursdays with his friends, and Sundays with his family. His grandchildren are into it now, he said, although snowboarding seems to be more their trick.
He’s tried snowboarding, but skiing has always been his thing and will remain to be so for the years ahead.
And the fact that he’s been voted in as this year’s Legendary Local was the icing on the cake for Buchanan, who was thrilled that his fellow skiers chose him.
“I think it is something special,” Buchanan said.
He said any number of his friends could have been chosen. It could very well have been those “old-timers” who voted him in, he said. But it’s quite an honour, and he’s looking forward to his 36th year experiencing Smithers powder.
Each year, Hudson Bay Mountain holds their Legendary Local early bird sale, and for those who purchase a season’s pass, they get to put their vote in for who they think is this year’s “Legendary Local”. This person is the face of the mountain for the next year, HBM’s Anna Ziegler explains, and receives their annual pass for free.