By Clare Ogilvie
In typical Whistler fashion residents and visitors alike gathered Monday to groove to Sea to Sky corridor musicians and eat cake to mark the three-year countdown to the start of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.
“It is very exciting,” said Whistler Councillor Gord McKeever,
“There is a lot to get done and three years is going to go by very quickly but I am very excited. It is going to be a wonderful event.”
As countdown party-goers enjoyed the scene outside the Whistler 2010 Information Centre, complete with ice sculptures, CBC News, Global TV, CTV and a host of other media outlets used the festive backdrop to anchor news shows and reports as Canada marked the occasion.
It’s something the town will have to get used to, said McKeever of the large number of media.
“I think at the end of the day it is a very positive thing for Whistler, and as long as we can be positive in our messaging and more importantly deliver the goods, then it is going to be really worthwhile,” he said.
“This is a resort economy and at the end of the day people hearing about us in a good context is a positive thing.”
It was hearing about Whistler in the media that brought the Goochs to the resort from Raleigh, North Carolina.
“When I heard the Olympics were going to be here I wanted to come just to say I had been there,” said Gary Gooch who was celebrating his 50 th birthday with the trip.
“Plus I have heard so many good things about the area.”
Said wife Ann: “I think people are excited about the Games. The west coast of Canada has always been so receptive of multicultural experiences so it will be great.”
For the Vancouver Organizing Committee’s director for community relations Whistler, Maureen Douglas, the bringing together of travellers and locals alike for the countdown celebration is part of the whole Games experience.
“We always talk about how it is a chance to celebrate for locals and visitors alike and it adds to the appeal of Whistler,” she said before heading on the celebration stage to emcee the event.
“I think it creates a brand new curiosity about what a community like this is like even before (the Games), what does it feel like getting ready for this day.
“At the heart of Whistler it really is a small town and I think it is a very special experience to share small town enthusiasm if you happen to be a visitor during a celebration.”