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Powder - - TABLE OF CONTENTS - In­ter­viewed by Jack Foersterling

Age: 66

Home­town: Nel­son, Bri­tish Columbia

Oc­cu­pa­tion: Land Sur­veyor

Born in Regina, Saskatchewan, in 1951, Bill Sproul moved to Nel­son when he was 11 years old and never found a rea­son to leave. Over the last 50 years, Sproul has held nearly ev­ery ski­ing job avail­able in in­te­rior Bc—ski in­struc­tor, pa­troller, heli ski guide, and ski shop owner. He was also part of the orig­i­nal crew that helped de­velop White­wa­ter Ski Area, even get­ting a run named af­ter him­self: Sproulers, pow­der-filled glades on the edge of the moun­tain.

“He was kind of like a fa­ther fig­ure for this lo­cal ski scene,” says Bill Heath, a Nel­son-based ski cin­e­matog­ra­pher who fea­tured sev­eral shots of Sproul in his cult clas­sic movie, Ski Your Ass Off. “He was al­ways very gen­er­ous with his time teach­ing peo­ple how to ski. He’s still like that. Young or old, he just wants to help peo­ple en­joy ski­ing.”

Th­ese days, Sproul can be found on the hill ski­ing ev­ery day from 9 till noon, get­ting back to the of­fice in the af­ter­noon to work as a self-em­ployed land sur­veyor.

I took a lik­ing to a girl that lived just up the street. She was a skier. I had never skied. I was a hockey player from Saskatchewan. We went to Sil­ver King, a ski hill out­side Nel­son. She takes off down the main run and is gone in an in­stant. I’m left at the top look­ing around think­ing, How do I even turn? Af­ter ne­go­ti­at­ing my way to the bot­tom, I came around the last cor­ner giv­ing my­self a pat on the back when lo and behold there was a fallen log across the trail. I had three choices: Try and fig­ure out how to turn, try and fig­ure out how to stop, or eat the log. But I found a fourth al­ter­na­tive. I dove over the log and ended up in a big pile of wreck­age in the trees. When I col­lected my­self, I had a big grin on my face and pow­der ev­ery­where and thought, ‘That’s prob­a­bly the most fun I’ve ever had in my life.’

Be­ing a broke stu­dent fin­ish­ing high school and go­ing to univer­sity, I needed a way to feed my habit, so I be­came a ski in­struc­tor and worked on the ski pa­trol.

When I got a break from in­struct­ing, I would sneak off and go to a se­cret stash I had that was out of bounds. Even a week or two af­ter a good snow­fall, I could al­ways find some fresh stashes. I would al­ways come back with pow­der in my beard, and all the guys would say, ‘Oh, Sprouler’s been in heaven again.’

I won­der about the same thing to­day that I did grow­ing up: How to make some money? I’ve had a great life, but it’d be nice to have some money in the bank when a guy re­tires.

Don’t lose track of why you ski. Don’t get wrapped up in all of the hype. Ski for the rea­son that you ski. For the free­dom and the abil­ity to ac­cess na­ture, and the face shots. All your prob­lems dis­ap­pear as soon as you click into your skis.

I’m a grandpa now, and I’m ski­ing with grand­kids, so that’s the next big chal­lenge. It’s get­ting that next gen­er­a­tion out and grow­ing up ski­ing. It was amaz­ing to take my kids into ter­rain that I used to work in, and show them what that whole life­style is all about.

I never ex­pected to be ski­ing this long. My dad was an en­gi­neer, and the old school men­tal­ity was you go to univer­sity and you get your univer­sity de­gree and ed­u­ca­tion. It was kind of ex­pected that I would be an en­gi­neer and con­tinue on that line. At 17 years old, I dis­cov­ered ski­ing and that was the end of that.

Photo: Mat­tias Fredriks­son

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