What does Silver Star mean to you? Over the coming months, we’ll be highlighting community stories that share the passion and resilience of those who call Silver Star home. Follow along on the journey!
Ask any Silver Star regular why they love it here and you’ll never hear the same answer twice. For some, it’s the access to outdoor adventure. For others it’s the friendly people and warm atmosphere. For local ski legends Norman Kreutz and Brian James, Silver Star is a playground for carving out a life and career in the mountains—and setting tracks for a new ski generation in the process.
Shaping the Future of Skiing: Norman Kreutz
If you’ve taken a lesson from a Canadian ski instructor, chances are Norman Kreutz has helped shape their journey. The Canadian Ski Instructors Association (CSIA) Hall of Fame inductee oversees a team of around 140 instructors as Technical Director of SnowSport School at SilverStar Mountain Resort, but his reach extends well beyond the resort.
The Ontario transplant has been intertwined with Silver Star for three decades, having first discovered the splendour (and feather-light snow) of the Monashee mountains after his first trip out West in 1979. From 1988 to 2002, he spent his early career developing ski techniques and teaching methods as the western director for CSIA, where he travelled across Canada training instructors from coast to coast to coast.
“I got to see a lot of different ski hills, but it was always a pleasure just to come home to Silver Star because it’s a very special place,” says Norman, who settled into his role with the mountain in 2002. His in-house expertise has helped SilverStar Mountain Resort gain a reputation as one of North America’s leading snow schools, producing the crème de la crème of ski instructors in Canada. With training talent like that, it’s no wonder that the area has close ties with notable ski athletes like Mike Douglas, TJ Schiller, Justin Dorey, and Josh Dueck.
Terrain and quality of snow aside, what’s kept Norman and his family local all these years?
“Number one: it’s the people. It’s a very inviting place. It’s your old school resort where a lot of people know each other. It’s a community ski area, first and foremost,” he explains. “If you ask Vernonites they’ll say: ‘Silver Star is my ski resort.’ It’s a local resort, so that vibe of knowing people and saying hello to people and seeing the same people on the slope day in and day out is a big factor here.”
Norman muses about the number of guests who keep returning to Silver Star year after year instead of going to other resorts for their ski vacation: “When we ask why, they say it’s that ambiance. They feel like they’re part of the community.”
Pioneering on Two Planks: Brian James
Fellow CSIA Hall of Fame inductee, Brian James, can’t quite recall the exact moment he decided to make skiing his life. But, more than 60 years into a momentous career in the industry, the ski pioneer is grateful he made the decision.
The long-time Silver Star resident co-owns Coldstream Dry Goods and The Village Ski Shop with his wife, and though retail and equipment rental operations have been a cornerstone in his career, Nordic and Alpine ski racing have been the heart and soul of it. Brian has spent his life on snow, having worked as a track setter, a high-level ski instructor, and a member and coach of the Canadian Demonstration Team at Interski.
With white gold fever in his sights, it was only a matter of time before Brian headed West from Ontario in the mid-’60s. After spending a few winters in Banff, he continued his journey westward to the Okanagan, where he’s been at the heart of the region’s ski industry ever since.
In 1992, Brian made the official move to Silver Star with his wife Sue, to head up ski school and retail, rental, repair operations. The decision on where to live was an easy one when they learned the school bus went right up the mountain. Since then, they’ve forged a life in and around the Klondike gas-light era village.
“It’s like a Rockwell painting. It gives a very cozy, homey feeling,” Brian enthuses. This unique sense of place and feeling of pride is what fuels the social atmosphere, he continues. The mid-mountain village is a catalyst for locals and visitors to meet and mingle—and it’s this spirited connection that’s become a hallmark of the Silver Star experience (for locals and visitors alike).
“We like to think that we’re a real social hub,” he reflects.
For Norman and Brian, a life spent doing what you love is only part of the equation—it’s sharing your passion with others that’s the most fulfilling aspect. The old skiing adage: “No friends on a powder day” doesn’t seem to apply here. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. And that’s just fine with us.