It’s been all downhill for Cole Pearn since he walked away from NASCAR.
In the best way possible.
"Working towards it, yeah," the 37-year-old said when asked if he has been skiing every day since moving out west, where he and his wife, Carrie, have recently taken over Golden Alpine Holidays, a back-country skiing and hiking vacation company near Golden, B.C.
What fueled the native of Mount Brydges, near Strathroy, Ont., to put his headset down in favour of a new life in the mountains of western Canada, while at the height of a highly successful career at stock-car racing’s top level no less? The desire to spend more time with his young family.
"I’ve missed a lot of years already with my kids," said Pearn, who has a 7-year-old son, Callum, and 5-year-old daughter, Freya. "I’ve had a ton of great memories when we do get time together, but that day-to-day life, they’re not used to me being there, so for me I felt like the window was closing. I think once they’re teenagers they probably won’t want anything to do with me. If I was going to be part of their lives, the window was now. I think that really pushed us to make the decision as early as we did."
Operating back-country ski huts in chilly Canada is a far cry from determining when to swap Goodyears in sizzling Daytona, but a chat with the former owner of Golden Alpine Holidays took place last January while Pearn was on a ski trip in Japan and "deep into a bottle of sake," and the rest is history.
"It just seemed to cross a lot of the things off the list of what we were looking for," said Pearn, who has been vacationing at Golden Alpine Holidays for the past six years and ranks hockey and skiing as his life’s passions alongside stock-car racing. "We finally came to a point this year where we found an avenue that we felt could work and we were excited about and we just decided to act on it. We’re either going to do this or we’re not, and we didn’t feel good about any other options and that’s kind of how we settled on our plan."
"My wife and I were really passionate about having our kids grow up in Canada – that’s something that we really wanted," he said. "We kind of promised each other that we would do that, so the fact that we’re able to live in Canada, live in the mountains and have something that we can work at that we care about is really what it came down to."
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