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Whistler Mayor Ted Nebbeling had reason to smile last week when he returned from Spain with a long-term commitment from the FIS for Whistler to host World Cup races. Everyone said the FIS doesn’t make commitments for more than two years, but Nebbeling didn’t listen and brought home a commitment that Whistler can build on. For that he deserves congratulations. The World Cup will be the centrepiece of an annual festival that launches the winter season in Whistler and should eventually pay dividends to the community. It’s a model that’s been used effectively in Vail, where the Vail Valley Foundation has raised thousands of dollars for that community through World Cup races and events surrounding the races. Even though Whistler has successfully hosted World Cup races in the past, putting the present deal together was a lot more difficult than it would seem. Politics, egos and money came into the mix at the local, national and international level. A small group, including Bill McNeney, Owen Carney and Don McQuaid, have kept sight of what the race could be and have worked for several years to get it to this point. To begin with, they had a vision of the race being a true Whistler event, rather than just something that is dropped on the community. Problem was much of the business community didn’t want it because it always came at the busiest time of year. World Cup organizers would be asking for discounted rooms and meals at a time when they commanded top dollar. The switch to a December date solved that problem. With the business community receptive to a new date a local ownership group had to be formed — the W5 group was founded early last fall. That was after McNeney and McQuaid went to FIS meetings in Europe last spring and secured an initial commitment to Whistler from the FIS. After that negotiations with Alpine Canada were longer and more difficult than expected. Nebbeling’s efforts secured the long-term commitment last week, but McNeney, Carney and McQuaid deserve special recognition for perseverance.

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