It’s been a long time since Whistler hosted a World Cup race. In 1999, FIS pulled their Whistler World Cup downhill event after in had been cancelled the three previous years because of snow, low visibility and generally storm weather.
The World Cup circuit returns to Whistler in February, with Telus as a headline sponsor. There are four medal races, a women’s downhill and super combined race, as well as a men’s super G and giant slalom.
The week also follows the Pontiac GMC Canadian Alpine Ski Championship speed events. The Canadian championships are being divided between B.C. and Quebec this year, with the technical events in Quebec.
The World Cup gets underway on Feb. 19 with the first women’s downhill training run on the new Olympic and Paralympic course, followed by additional training runs on Feb. 20 and Feb. 21. The downhill race takes place on Thursday, Feb. 21, with the first forerunner at 10:45 a.m.
The men’s super G event takes place on Wednesday, Feb. 21 on the Dave Murray Downhill, and gets underway at 10:45 a.m.
The men’s giant slalom is on Feb. 23, with the first runs at 10 a.m. and the second runs at 1 p.m.
The women’s Super Combined race is on Feb. 24, with the super-G event at 10:45 a.m. and the giant slalom at 1:45 p.m.
All race dates and times are subject to change as a result of weather conditions.
According to Peter Allan, who helped lead a recruiting drive for Whistler’s Weasel Workers last season, the race is full-up with course workers and officials.
“There’s a lot of Weasel Workers that have signed up to volunteer for the World Cup, and the national championships the week before, and at this point it doesn’t look like we need any more volunteers,” he said.
The Weasel Workers arrive before events and help put up fencing and safety nets for the races, clearing snow off the course, packing soft snow, maintaining the track and gates, helping out during the events as officials, and taking the course down when the events have wrapped up. Some events can require twice as many volunteers as there are athletes.
According to Allan, the Vancouver Organizing Committee has stepped up for these races, helping to find accommodation for some out-of-town Weasel Workers and providing funding for the crew that will start to put up the “A” netting this week. Most of the other volunteers will arrive a week to 10 days before the Pontiac GMC Canadian Alpine Ski Championships, and will stay through the end of the World Cup.
“There has been a lot of behind the scenes work done by volunteers to get to this point, with VANOC spearheading the whole thing,” said Allan. “It hasn’t been without its glitches, but the reality is that it will all come together at the end of the day, and we should have a very successful event, both the nationals and World Cup.”