During a visit to Calgary last week, International Olympic Committee (IOC) executive director Christophe Dubi said using existing facilities would be looked on favourably in bids for future Olympic Games.
With Calgary looking to put together a submission for the 2026 Winter Games, Whistler could be tapped to boost the bid. The resort's best shot at bringing back the Olympics would be through use of its ski jumps at Whistler Olympic Park for the ski jumping and Nordic combined events.
Whistler Sport Legacies president and CEO Roger Soane stressed that there are still several hoops to jump through before Whistler would officially be part of the bid.
"It's a Calgary bid and first things first, they've got to get their head around it," he said. "I know that security, like it does with everything these days, plays a big part in the decision making. Having another security detail in British Columbia rather than in Alberta does add to the costs. But I'm sure that would be offset by not having to build another ski-jumping complex."
As well, Soane said Calgary's current facility is "obsolete" and likely beyond revamping. Estimates for a brand-new site near Canmore have reached $100 million.
"Even if we need major refits for our jumps, and we need system upgrades, which by then, will be 20 years old, it's going to be a fraction of that cost," said Soane, who noted later that delegations from Calgary have visited the site.
"From the International Olympic Committee's view, they want to encourage this. Otherwise, they will find it very difficult to find countries that are going to bid on these Games, especially the Winter Olympics, because they're such niche sports."
Soane said he's told the Calgary committee that a Whistler bid would be looked on favourably by the IOC.
"A bid without (us), they may question why they haven't gone down the road of using infrastructure that is in place," Soane said.
While Soane would love to see more events held here, he noted the Canmore facilities for other Nordic events are "very, very good" while the Calgary Olympic Park track is receiving a $20-million renovation starting this summer.
Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden confirmed Resort Municipality staff has talked with Calgary staff, but the discussions haven't reached the political level yet.
"Obviously we would have to consult with the community, we would have to talk to WSL who manages those facilities, but yeah, we're open to conversation about it for sure," she said.
Calgary's bid could run into trouble on the Alpine front as the bid committee hopes to use Lake Louise's facilities, but its location in Banff National Park could hinder development necessary to accommodate crowds. Nakiska, which hosted the 1988 alpine events, is also being considered, according to a Jan. 23 Calgary Herald story quoting bid director Kyle Ripley. The article also noted Whistler has been floated as a possibility, but Ripley cited increased costs and security and logistical challenges as hindrances.
Whistler Blackcomb spokesman Marc Riddell said in an email that the Games aren't on the company's radar.
"I don't think anyone has contacted us nor have we given it any consideration," Riddell noted.
According to the Herald, Calgary city council has given the federal and provincial governments until the end of January to indicate whether they would support an Olympic bid and would not pursue it further without higher-level funding.