You won’t be seeing Jodi Cooke on your TV screen this winter and for good reason — she’s taking a hiatus to hit the slopes in Austria as a ski instructor.
Journalist Jodi Cooke is taking a hiatus from her duties at NTV. She’ll be working in Austria as a ski instructor from December to April. — Photo by Joe Gibbons/The Telegram
Viewers know Cooke as a journalist who’s been working at NTV for the past seven years.
But she is also an avid outdoors enthusiast who’s proficient at sailing and skiing.
The skiiing talent will take Cooke to the central Austrian town of Schladming to coach skiing from December until April to British boarding school students of various levels of skill. The town was home to the International Ski Federation’s 2013 Alpine World Ski Championships.
In her spare time, Cooke has been learning German to prepare for the adventure.
“The catalyst was Dave (Whelan) and I were married and we decided this was the time for us to do this because our situation might change in a couple of years, whether it be family or some other reason,” she said.
“(NTV) was really gracious to let me take advantage of this. They saw it as a real opportunity and they know how passionate I am about outdoor activity and skiing.”
But the New Brunswick-born Cooke wasn’t always crazy about skiing.
She began hitting the slopes at the age of three with her parents, Reid and Esther.
“My parents are horrible skiers, but they taught us as youngsters,” Cooke said.
“My dad used to tie a sailing rope around my waist and hold on to it and he would ski behind me and I would just go straight. I never took a lesson once as a kid. And I hated skiing. I loathed it.”
But then one winter day during her Grade 3 year, Cooke’s father knocked on her classroom door to take her out of school for a family skiing excursion.
“And all the kids were like ‘Oh wow, she gets to go skiing.’ I was like ‘See you all later’ and that’s when I decided I liked skiing,” she laughs.
When Cooke got her driver’s licence, she was at the ski hill every weekend and both she and her brother, Joel, grew up to be experts at the sport.
She dropped out of college at 19 to move to British Columbia to be a ski instructor, following in her brother’s tracks.
Cooke travelled and worked at various resorts from B.C. to Ontario and in 2004 returned to school to study journalism.
Her brother has lived in Austria, where he is a ski guide, for 20 years.
Cooke said he suggested she could offset a trip to visit him and his family by drawing on her coaching skills. She did that for a few-week’s working holiday on a previous trip and was offered the opportunity to come back for a whole season.
Before she takes the hiatus of several months from reporting, Cooke answered
20 questions with The Telegram.
What is your full name?
Jodi Kay Cooke
Where and when were you born?
July 1979 in Bathurst, N.B.
Where is home today?
Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s
What was one act of rebellion you committed as a youth?
Getting kicked out of church camp for pulling a prank on our camp counsellor — putting a bunch of open ketchup packets in her sleeping bag.
What was your favourite year?
2013 — I got engaged and married to Logy Bay boy Dave Whelan.
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Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
In Newfoundland still reading the news.
What is your favourite food?
My mother-in-law’s Jiggs dinner.
What are five artists in your music collection?
Daft Punk, Sia, Rankin Family, The Chemical Brothers and The Once.
Who would play you in a movie about your life?
What is your greatest regret?
Not having gone back to school sooner. I took four years off for skiing.
What’s the toughest thing about your job?
The sad stories, the emotional stories. It is hard to detach yourself.
If you were an animal, what would you be?
I saw this video of a GoPro camera on the back of an eagle. It’s flying over these cliffs where the earth just drops out underneath. When I watched it, I wished that I was that eagle making decisions because he went left and I wanted to go right. I was “No, go over there. I want to see what’s under that cliff.”
If you could visit or live in another time, when would that be and why?
The Roaring (19)20s before the (stock market) crash. I would have loved to have seen that life of opulence and carefree.
What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever done?
A ski tour in the Austrian Alps.
What was the most vivid dream you’ve ever had?
My teeth falling out. I hear it is anxiety … I have it at least once a month where my teeth are falling out and I try to put them back in my mouth where they are supposed to be. But it’s just like having a mouth full of Chiclets. It’s so vivid.
What’s the strangest thing that has ever happened to you?
Being hit by a killer whale while sailing and thinking we were going to sink off Cape St. Francis.
Who inspires you?
My mom and my dad and my husband, incredibly supportive people always — making sure I don’t get complacent and encouraging me to keep on doing exciting things.
Do you have any hidden talents besides skiing and sailing?
My art — I am a novice at stained glass, but I am proud of it.
What is your most treasured possession?
A painting (depicting her by a bedroom window from which an iceberg can be seen in the ocean off Flatrock) that was gifted to me by my parents. My husband took the picture and an artist (Andrew Peycha) from Ontario saw the photo on my Facebook and contacted me and asked if he could paint it. My parents bought it for me.
Who would you most like to hit the slopes with?
Sarah Burke, now deceased. She and I coached together for a number of years.
(Burke, who lived in Whistler, B.C., and was inducted posthumously in the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame, was a champion freestyle skier who died in 2012 in a skiing accident).