British photographer Laurence Crossman-Emms has based himself in the mountain bike ‘Mecca’ of Whistler for the 2015 summer season. He has worked on a feature series for Dirt called ‘Up in the Park’, chronicling the lives of people who have escaped ‘normal’ life and are living their dreams in one of the undisputed centres of the mountain biking world.

Words and Photos: Laurence Crossman-Emms

As many of you know Whistler is a booming town filled with more tourists than actual residents most of the time. Flocks of eager sightseers and adrenaline filled thrill seekers come rushing up the Highway 99 every day to escape their busy 9 to 5s and enter an outdoor haven. But there are actually people here with professional jobs that feel that just riding their bike here isn't enough, they need the full Whistler hold.

Unknown to most, this year Whistler is/was actually suffering from a terrible worker shortage with many businesses being forced to close simply because they don't have enough staff to operate. But don't worry, the lift aren't going to stop spinning any time soon, Whistler Blackcomb, not ironically one of the biggest employers in town, offer an array of operational jobs… if you know a thing of two!

Canadian local man, Sterling Christenson, has found his place under the WB wing as a Lift Maintenance Millwright. Spending his days hoisted 30ft up a lift tower cranking bolts and shredding some turns in the Park by evening. Sounds like the life hey, but the temptations of ‘Whistler Life’ can be tough, earning more just means spending more here… rounds are on Sterling!

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Name?

Sterling Christenson.

Age?

26.

Hometown?

Port Hardy, BC.

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First time in Whistler?

Winter opening day when I was around 15… mind blown.

Experience Up in the Park?

Five years and counting.

Best Phat Wednesday Result?

13th.

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Number of Jobs in Whistler?

1.

Wheel Size in the Park?

26, but I may make the switch to 650b, or at least 27.5!

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Bro, Do you even Enduro?

I try to, but mostly just end up pedalling my bike up and riding back down as fast as I can.

Beer or Coffee?

Coffee.

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No dig, no ride?

It’s a free country, but it’s always good to give back and put in some work when possible.

Worst ever craze in Whistler?

When Rollerbladers took over the town.

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What’s the biggest attraction to come to Whistler, why would you ever want to live here?

It is a haven for those who love the outdoors and good times, so many bike-minded people in one place can never be a bad thing.

What is summer in Whistler to you?

It is having all the room for all the activities you could ask for, but never quite having the time for it all; it keeps you wanting more.

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There is plenty of riding in Whistler, describe what your favourite trail would be like?

Fun jumps, fun corners, fun rolls, fun tech, fun drops, fun chutes… I like a fun trail.

You are Canadian, you eat Poutine for breakfast right. What’s your Canadian quirk?

I say my fair share of “eh" and have a hard time passing by a skinny or a huck-to-flat.

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Holding down a professional job along with trying to live the Whistler lifestyle must be tough. How do you find balancing this?

I think it helps that my job has transformed into a career that I love, so it always makes giving up riding time for work a little easier.

Whistler is filled with foreigners coming and going all the time, how does it feel being almost a minority in your own country?

It’s great, though I can hardly get an “eh" or a “noo doubt aboot it" in edgewise without the English fellas losing it.

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I can only imagine you have taken some stacks up in the Park, what was your biggest?

Haven't had any huge crashes in the Park, but I'm sure you could make a pretty long compilation just of me losing my front wheel on B-line.

You have spent some serious time in the Park, what do you feel is one of the biggest changes to the park of the years?

I’d say the biggest change has been adding longer rides to the Bike Park experience. When I moved here a Garbo lap was the longest available, now you can do a Top of the World all the way to Creekside, talk about vert!

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What has been your all time Whistler highlight?

I would have to say riding for you Laurence in this year’s Deep Summer photo comp and coming out with the viewer’s choice award.

What insider piece of advice would you give to someone coming to Whistler?

Pace yourself.

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Where do you think you would be if you weren't here in Whistler?

Somewhere else I can ride amazing trails just off my doorstep, or counting the days until my next riding trip.

Who is that rider that aspires you to get out on the bike?

Anyone who is stoked and all-smiles at the bottom of the hill.

High fives or fist bumps?

Turkeys.

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