Opinion » Editorial


If you’ve seen and heard enough already about last weekend’s World Cup race that wasn’t, turn the page. For those who are still here, I want to talk a little bit about the human side of this event. The bottom line, as far as the races go, is that they didn’t happen. But, as with most journeys, how we got to that point was more interesting than the actual bottom line. At 1 p.m. Friday, after it had rained steadily for most of the previous 14 hours, the race jury met to decide whether to cancel the races or see what Saturday brought. There was no snow at all in the valley. For the first time in memory course workers had been sent home in the morning without even attempting to go up the mountain. Now they were returning to Dusty’s to get the official word on the race’s cancellation. Many didn’t bother to bring their skis. Most of the jury was in favour of scrapping the race. Bill McNeney, chief of race, and Owen Carney, chief of course, wanted another opportunity. FIS referee Guenther Hujara was incredulous. He had to leave the meeting to think things through. When he returned he said to McNeney and Carney, "What do you want to do?" By this time the sun had come out and there was a crowd of workers milling around Dusty’s, waiting for a decision. As Hujara said later, "They were all celebrating and yelling ‘Yippeee!’ when the decision was made to try again." As everyone knows by now, the race was cancelled Saturday morning, due to too much new snow, so Friday’s jury decision was moot, right? Hardly. Keeping the race alive Friday stoked the coals under the festival going on in the village. There was a sense of purpose to the events, rather than the gloom which could have hung over them. Friday’s decision also brought a few more people up from Vancouver than might have come if the race had already been cancelled. When the race finally was cancelled on Saturday, it was because of too much snow, rather than too little. That may be seen by some as a spin doctor’s take on the bottom line, but with all the talk this fall of El Niño it’s important to Whistler. CBC produced a show from Whistler Saturday which was essentially a promotional piece on the resort. If the race had been cancelled Friday the corporation likely would have found some other show to fill in the air time that was spent on Whistler. Saturday afternoon, in one of the classiest displays of the week, Canadian team member Cary Mullen told the Weasel Workers about a race at Val Gardena a few years ago. He had started third and was the only one of the first 30 racers to finish in the top 10, due to new snow and changing weather conditions that gave a huge advantage to the later starters. He’d skied nearly perfectly, but he had no chance of winning because of the weather. The people who attempted to put on last weekend’s race faced the same circumstances: they’d done the best they could, they were just defeated by the weather.