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Gymnastics training facility moving ahead

$2 million aside for facility

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By Andrew Mitchell

Although the Whistler Gymnastics Club has at least three more years of setting up and taking down every piece of equipment for every class, there’s light at the end of the tunnel.

Working with the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympics, the Resort Municipality of Whistler has set aside $2 million in its five-year financial plan for a full time gymnasium that will be adjoined to the Whistler Athletes’ Centre. The centre will likely be managed by Whistler Gymnastics, but will be available to other community groups and teams that have expressed an interest in a gymnastics and trampoline facility.

“One of the things that still has to be worked out is the governance model, and how it will operate. At this stage we already know that the athletes centre will be owned by the Whistler Legacy Society,” said Keith Bennett, general manager of parks and recreation.

“I think we always hoped we would reach that point when we had the critical mass to have a dedicated gymnastics facility, where the equipment is always set up. I know there is a lot of pressure on the schools with the number of sports being offered and kids, which means the equipment comes down at the end of every class, and which limits the operations (Whistler Gymnastics) does have.”

How the gymnastics facility will be physically incorporated in the athletes’ village has yet to be determined, but Bennett expects to see some rough plans in the near future.

“It’s really in the preliminary stages right now,” said Bennett. “We’ve agreed with VANOC on the concept but at this point we’re still in very early stages. VANOC is going out and looking for expressions of interest for the architectural services to design the building, but we haven’t picked the architect or plan yet.”

Bennett says the goal is to have the facility open for 2009, or during 2009 at the very latest. Whether the Whistler Gymnastics Club can start using the facility once it’s completed is yet to be decided, but it will be unavailable to the club immediately before and during the Games.

For the Whistler Gymnastics Club, the full time facility will be a huge improvement for the club.

“The coaches are excited, the parents are excited, it’s going to be huge for the club,” said club director Catou Crookshank.

The club offers classes four days a week at Myrtle Philip Community School, and has to set up and take down every piece of equipment before and after each class. It takes about half an hour to set up and take down, cutting into club time and resources.

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