Brent Curtain In Profile...
As Mount Washington Alpine Resort’s Director of Public Relations, Brent Curtain is accustomed to being on the other side of the pen and notebook. But he doesn’t hesitate to talk to another writer about his role at the Resort.
“I love my job,” he said over hamburgers and soup at Fat Teddy’s. “I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. To be able to work up here in this environment and to be able to ski, it’s rewarding. “One thing about this mountain: you never get bored,” he said.
Curtain first joined the staff at Mount Washington in 2001-02, leaving Whistler to become a Season’s Pass Administrator for Vancouver Island’s premier Ski Resort. He also worked in Guest Relations, having been Manager of Guest Services at Blackcomb before coming to Mount Washington.
At the end of summer in 2004, he and his wife rented out their home in Courtenay and spent seven months traveling to his wife’s home country of Australia as well as Vietnam, Thailand and India (where they missed the Himalayan ski season by two weeks).
When they returned to the Comox Valley, Curtain was toying with the idea of taking graphic design at Emily Carr University of Art and Design. He returned to Mount Washington to say hello to some friends, and before he knew it a job had opened up in the public relations department. So he was back on the slopes.
The ski bug bit Curtain long before he ever set foot on Vancouver Island. He grew up in the Ottawa Valley and learned to ski in Grade 6 at Mount Pakenham, just outside Canada’s capital.
His grandparents lived in Nanaimo on Vancouver Island, so he spent some time in this area. Once he finished high school he moved out west, took the Ski Operations Management Program at Selkirk College in Nelson, B.C. and moved to Japan to work at the Kawaba Ski Jo (resort) on Honshu, Japan’s main island.
“After that I came back and it was the ‘University of Whistler’, which basically sucked me in,” he said.
Curtain met his wife, Helena, while working in Whistler. “She was traveling for a year and was working as a lift operator on Whistler. I interrupted her year-long vacation,” he said, adding that Helena didn’t return to Australia for three years.
He credits Helena with the family’s decision to move to Vancouver Island. A registered nurse, she was unable to pick up enough hours working as an operating room RN in Squamish. She wanted to work full time as a nurse, and the Island was an easy choice because they already had family there.
“Before we even considered moving here from Whistler, we came over for a visit,” Curtain explained. “We came for a two-day ski vacation to Mount Washington. I honestly hadn’t heard much about it except they got a lot of snow. “My first time at the top of the mountain, I couldn’t believe the view,” he said.
Helena now works at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Comox. And Curtain? “Now it’s my job to get that photo of the view from the peak into as many minds as possible. Because it really is one of the most amazing views you could have.”
In October 2008 the Curtains embarked on another project: their son Ryder, who turned one in October.
“It’s amazing being a father,” Curtain said, breaking into a grin. “Your views on life change. Every day you look at this little guy and you almost can’t put words to it. Babies do new things every day.”
The Curtains are already passing on their “travel lust” to Ryder, having taken him whale watching in Telegraph Cove last summer. They spent a month in Byron Bay, Queensland, Australia earlier this spring so Ryder could meet some of his family Down Under. And they’ve exposed him to West Coast beach culture quite often as Helena and Brent are both avid surfers.
But the highlight this past winter was getting Ryder up on skis for the first time. The Curtains managed to find some tiny gear that fit their son.
“At 17 months, you don’t let him go on his own. They don’t know how to fall,” Curtain said. “He was actually excited and squealed with delight.”
Curtain pushed Ryder through the snow in the courtyard between the Bradley Centre and the alpine lodge, in the kids’ learning area.
“We’re choosing that he’s going to be a skier for now, until he’s old enough to ski on his own.”