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letter to the editor

What really happened to the World Cup mountain bike triple event? The newspapers have all given their accounts of what happened. As expected the report in the Pique was well researched and provided an excellent objective accounting of the subject. The editorial was bang on. The letters written mourning the loss were all done quite well. I know there will be more to follow supporting both TEAM’s and W3’s position. The sad thing about the entire mess is that the real damage done to our community’s fibre continues to grow with each new volley of mud slinging.

I worked as an MC, alongside The Legend and Tiny Elvis, for two years. I saw first hand the amazing community spirit the Summer Session festival brought out in each and every volunteer working the event, as well as the dedication Marika and Claire put into the event. The festival went beyond being a sports competition. Everybody, whether pre school child or amateur bike enthusiast, had an opportunity to participate at some level. Spectators were exposed to the incredible variety of biking disciplines.

TEAM Management had a dream to put together a successful bid for a World Cup. They put up their own money and developed the Whistler Summer Session festival for over three years, to the point where the bid could be successful. There was support from all the other players in the event. There was also an immense amount of corporate political manoeuvring to get the sponsorships allowed on the mountain and in the base expo area. Nissan was disallowed as a sponsor even after the original sponsorship managers had approved the deal. TEAM worked through this financial loss and carried on towards a successful bid. Now they could overcome the limits of the mountain sponsorship deals and attract top sponsors to finance the event. World Cup events are exempt from mountain sponsorship deals. The ducks were all lined up in a row.

The decision by UCI to require a Resort signature on the bid contract proved to be the first domino to fall. W3’s formation, out of the W5 group, was a continuation of this tumbling trend. The bottom line is that too many people and organizations wanted to control the event.

The only group experienced in operating this event was TEAM Management. They were also the only company aware of the costs involved in this type of production. They knew this because they had three years of personal financial investments – with no returns – that put them in the position to make a successful bid. Their budget was dismissed as excessive. What was the expert opinion that led to this decision?

The comments by the members of W3 following the announcement were typical of the type of political manoeuvring that precipitated and eventually caused the loss of the event. Mayor O’Reilly referred to the loss as "a hiccup." The $7 million in lost revenue is only the stream which leads to the river of lost expectations of the No. 1 resort. Once again, these pale in comparison to the loss of our community’s expectations to live and work together so that we may all enjoy the natural wonder we inhabit.

Upstanding members of our business community have been wrongly implicated in a cowardly act, which was perpetrated against a local family. The tactics used by the RCMP, the very people we entrust to protect our freedoms, reek of Stalinesque and McCarthy-like purges. The act was inexcusable, no matter what we may think of the victim’s part in this fiasco. The reactions nauseate me.

What this entire mess comes down to is more than a simple wake up call for future bids. The entire series of events is related to a growing problem in Whistler. Three or four entities, whether political or corporate, want to control or take a piece of every single event of any size which occurs in Whistler. Our council talks of managing sponsorships when they should be managing employee housing issues and proceeding with neighbourhood upgrade projects in the Creekside. The municipality is a service not a profit centre. Tourism Whistler’s mandate is to market Whistler, not to limit the opportunities of entrepreneurs who have helped to increase the quality of life to visitors and residents of the valley. Intrawest managers may want to revert back to Scott Carrel’s old corporate philosophy that inspired the original Blackcomb Merchants Association. "The success of local merchants shows the success of Blackcomb Mountain."

This valley is where we have chosen to live. There is plenty of room for everyone to exist and be successful if we manage our resources well. First we must remember to manage ourselves in a manner which ensures that our children can grow up proud of the community we have built for them. Otherwise we may as well all become Republicans or Democrats, forget how to vote and live in cities behind bars.

Christopher Quinlan