Ski Canada @50 – Shooting the Prime Minister
by Don Weixl
Jean Chrétien’s visit in 1995 had about 20 people skiing with him. I was asked to join the group for photos at the Putnam Creek area of Silver Star but when I arrived, the group was already heading down the run. Wearing a large photographer’s backpack at the time, I hit the afterburners and ripped along the treeline to get well in front of the pack so I would have time to stop, open my pack and get out my camera and photograph the PM skiing towards me. A skier in a windbreaker with his jeans tucked into his boots on rental skis appeared to be trying to run me off into the trees but wasn’t able to challenge my skill set. When he finally caught up with me, he identified himself as RCMP. I didn’t see a gun but he was probably packing. Once everything was explained, the prime minister was very co-operative and skied for the camera on several runs. He was not a particularly gifted skier, but enthusiastic and a lot of fun, happily posing for photos with other skiers.
My memory of skiing with Pierre Trudeau in 1998 was that he was quiet on the chairlift and seemed to want to be left alone. I had only one chance at Silver Star to get photos, so we went down a busy blue run, Whiskey Jack. Trudeau was wearing reflective goggles that made him indistinguishable from any other 70-plus skier out there. I asked him if he could do a few turns with his goggles off his face and he obliged. Not surprisingly, at 78 he skied a little stiffly, but probably was a pretty good skier back in the day. His son Sacha was with him otherwise he had no security whatsoever, and nobody knew who they were skiing beside at the time.50th, Don Weixl, SilverStar