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Coast Hotel sponsors athletes

Dan Raymond first athlete to benefit from employee funded initiative

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Coast Hotels and Resorts is stepping up to assist Canadian athletes who compete nationally and internationally, but don’t currently receive any Sport Canada funding.

Called the Coast Athlete Assistance Program, staff at participating hotels choose what athletes they would like to support through fundraisers and other initiatives.

The program was organized in partnership with PacificSport in B.C. and the Canadian Sport Centre in Alberta, who handled the applications and set the format for the program.

The Coast Whistler Hotel is the first hotel in the chain to pick an athlete, with staff choosing Dan Raymond, a member of the Canadian National Snowboard Team.

"I feel really privileged. The town of Whistler has so many great athletes, and not just in winter sports, so I’m pretty stoked that they picked me," said Raymond.

Raymond missed qualifying for Sport Canada funding at the World Championships in January, and has been largely funding his own participation with the national team.

Although he got off to a slow start on the World Cup this year, he at last landed the run he wanted at the last World Cup of the season in Sweden, finishing in eighth place. He continued to have success with that run at the World Snowboarding Invitational in Whistler in April, finishing fifth. If he lands it consistently, he’ll be one of the only athletes on the World Cup tour with spins on all four axes – frontside, backside, switch frontside, and switch backside.

Raymond’s goal is to qualify for Torino in 2006, and he has five more events to secure his spot on the team. Crispin Lipscomb and Justin Lamoureux have already qualified to represent Canada, which leaves just two spots for four members of the national team.

The Whistler Coast Hotel will host the first fundraiser for Raymond in July, when the Crab Shack reopens after renovations, and both the staff and guests will be involved in various fundraising initiatives through the hotel.

Raymond will also speak at three upcoming Coast events and will put together a newsletter for the hotel on his activities with the team. He has also offered to take staff members out snowboarding – Raymond is Canada’s most highly certified snowboard instructor, and wrote the manual for the Canadian Association of Snowboard Instructors.

"The staff members are my neighbours in Whistler in a sense, and I really do appreciate their support. One thing I can share with them, to show my appreciation, is my love of snowboarding," said Raymond.

The CAAP program covers expenses like travel and equipment, which Raymond says account for the bulk of his yearly expenses.

Raymond will be heading down to a national team training camp in Mammoth in two weeks, and will return this summer to coach with the Whistler Summer Snowboard Camp. He also helps teach English to Japanese students at the Canadian Ski Business Academy.

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