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Letters to the editor

Was the wait worth it?

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I believe the six-and-a-half year wait was absolutely worth it.

Whistler has it going on in the Village without the problems you have seen in Vancouver. The energy in the village is like no other and the patriotism speaks for itself.

Being Canadian in this ski town has made this Olympic experience even more special. I have never seen so many people in a such a good mood. How can you not - even if USA beats you in hockey. Then you shake the hand of Frank Thomas, future hall of famer. Isn't it funny how hockey or the Olympics unite a country, or better yet, the whole world?

I have never felt so safe in town with all the extra police around which makes for a true Olympic experience. Just say "hi" to them and say you're local and then they ask you where a restaurant is to help a lost tourist.

Despite the lack of sleep I have had the first week - and I apologize to my co-workers in advance - this has been the best experience ever.

Let's remember not to get down on our athletes by not winning gold. Can you imagine the pressure they have on their shoulders? Just remember where you were when Alex Bilodeau won Canada's first gold. Let's be proud Canadians and not bitter and remember how Whistler and Vancouver have hosted the world and have done an exceptional job.

I cannot wait 'till I own a piece of the legacy by moving into the athletes' village later this year.

Has it been worth it? You bet, and it's been the best time to be a proud Canadian living in the Host Mountain Resort of Whistler that I call home.

Diamond Doug Ryan

Whistler

 

Hearts of gold

Last night at Tapley's bar, we were drinking with three work friends. We had a great time and sang songs with the table next to us. When it came time to pay the bill, the table next to us gave us $50 to put towards our bill. They were three Canadians and one person from the States. Regretfully we didn't get their names.

They gave us the money because they said they enjoyed seeing us having fun in their hometown and wanted to share some Canadian spirit. We were so overwhelmed with their spontaneous generosity.

Canadians don't need to win gold in these Olympics to prove themselves. Their hearts are already made of gold. Thank you so much.

Justine, Elliot, Andrew and Mark,

the Australian and English Whistler Blackcomb lifties

 

Enjoying the moment

Four months before we won the bid I pulled a tomahawk down Exhiliration, tearing my ACL, MCL, PCL, patellar tendon and I don't know how many meniscus tears. Thankfully Mayor Ken Melamed was pretty good with a patrol tobaggon and I got down the hill safely. Four months later I was still bed ridden, listening to the crowd in the village after we won the bid. Not a fun day.

I'm from Calgary so I remember the Olympic fever when I was 10 years old. It stuck with me. I tried to make it in freestyle skiing but I think I was just too tall. Ended up with a bum knee from that too. But it didn't matter, it doesn't matter, skiing is in my blood. So what other place to be than in Whistler. That's why I live here. And since those days I have never felt part of a friendlier, happier community.

I'm proud to be from Whistler, Canada. And during the Olympics I'm gonna be from Whistler the best way I can. I'm gonna love every single minute of the Games. Sure they've been an inconvenience; it's hard to fit the whole world up here. But we're doing it so we may as well enjoy it now. And yeah, the Olympic Games are full of unsustainability, but now is the time to show them what is. I was a Nohomi, I was a Sumi, I am a Luk Luk and I'm not so keen on Corpi.

The world is watching, be the best Whistlerite you can be. And for me? I'm gonna keep running and waving my flag. Cause I'm proud of my neck of the woods. I'm proud to know all the people around me. And I want to show the world what we're made of here. Fun and friendliness. Oh yeah, and we're really good at dangerous sports. Just like Canada's gold medallists.

So keep running, keep healthy, keep high kicking, keep fist pumping, 'cause Whistler is the best place to be in the world and now is the time to show it.

P.S. I also was in a car accident two years ago on Highway 99 and suffer from chronic back pain, so if I see one more VANOC Super Utility Vehicle speeding in the Olympic lane I'm gonna wave a polite hello with my middle finger. It's not really a three-lane highway. And to my knowledge, we pass on the left-hand side in Canada.

Oh yeah, and if it wasn't for the existence of sport and the Olympics, I may never have been inspired to train myself back into shape or quit smoking a pack-and-a-half a day.

Jon Parris, a.k.a. Captain Canada

Whistler

 

Valuing our icons

I watched the opening ceremonies of the Vancouver 2010 Olympics. They reflected what I believe Canadians love about our country and what it is that soothes our souls. That being the wide-open spaces of prairies and oceans, vast forests of conifers and maples, wild rivers and wildlife we share this land and water with.

I'm pretty sure these are also the images we have hanging on our walls, sitting on our windowsills and in our photo albums. Unfortunately these are the very same icons we exploit to fulfill our insatiable needs.

In British Columbia we have cut down the majority of these conifers and in the process destroyed vast amounts of fish habitat resulting in collapsed runs of the Pacific salmon which feed the bears we hunt for trophies and the whales whose habitat we pollute with our capital city's raw sewage.

We cry that our debt is not our fault, demand someone else pay for our children and parents, insist we should have high-paying jobs and complain that Canadian-made products cost to much.

Well while you sit and watch your flat-screen TV, on your no-money-down sofa, drinking the beer you bought on credit while your children play one of their 50 games of Nintendo, ask yourself what you've done to make Canada the place you just shed a tear for, then ask yourself what you'll do different tomorrow to make it a better place.

And if the answer is nothing then ask yourself which one of the icons on your wall you're willing to live without.

Nadine Beckham

Squamish

 

An Olympic-sized thank you

I want to send out an "Olympic" big thank you for what will go down as one of my best Olympic experiences thus far!

On one of the most crowded days in Whistler, this past Saturday, I realized that I had lost my purse somewhere outside one of the shops in the middle of the festive afternoon. With a heavy heart I frantically made the circuit with my sad tale to the very sympathetic ears at the stores, info centre, RCMP office and finally the main visitor centre where, to my greatest and uplifting surprise, I was informed that it had just been turned into the "operations" office and would be walked over to me!

A gold medal, please, to the wonderful person(s) who did a wonderful thing in spotting my purse and handing it in! That big hug I gave to the staff member from the "operations" office, who walked my purse over, was also meant for my "Olympic" hero of my day that golden day! Thank you!

Bonnie Strukoff

Delta, B.C.

 

An Olympic-sized thank you

I want to send out an "Olympic" big thank you for what will go down as one of my best Olympic experiences thus far!

On one of the most crowded days in Whistler, this past Saturday, I realized that I had lost my purse somewhere outside one of the shops in the middle of the festive afternoon. With a heavy heart I frantically made the circuit with my sad tale to the very sympathetic ears at the stores, info centre, RCMP office and finally the main visitor centre where, to my greatest and uplifting surprise, I was informed that it had just been turned into the "operations" office and would be walked over to me!

A gold medal, please, to the wonderful person(s) who did a wonderful thing in spotting my purse and handing it in! That big hug I gave to the staff member from the "operations" office, who walked my purse over, was also meant for my "Olympic" hero of my day that golden day! Thank you!

Bonnie Strukoff

Delta, B.C.

 

Right on Maëlle

Something big happened yesterday that reminded me why it's best to keep your mobile phone as just that - rather than an all-in-one e-mail, Internet, Facebook, video, camera, GPS, calendar and phone.

I was in the car when a Facebook message popped up that said "Maëlle wins Gold," which nearly caused me to crash and swallow my Blackberry whole.

I later saw what a sensational victory it was and Maëlle's giggle through the camera at the finish line - beamed around the world - just made it all the better. It was the giggle of a Champion who just won a gold medal all of Canada can celebrate.

She gave me a similar giggle when I asked her to climb and pose on a light pole for a photograph I did for Pique about seven years ago. I'd like it on the record that I said out loud in the Pique office after that story that Maëlle could win a gold medal.

And what about big Karl Ricker... I'm sure he was going positively (enviro) mental on the finish line. He's now got something to yarn about on the next Brackendale Eagle count.

Party on Canada, party on Whistler and well done Maëlle.Your gold medal is RIGHT ON!

PS: Mr. Mayor, I hope you've already picked the street you're going to name after her. "Maëlle Ricker Boulevard" has a nice ring to it.

Adam Daff

Sydney, Australia

 

AWARE's position needed

I am very disappointed by Al Whitney's open letter published last week about AWARE. As a director on the board of AWARE, founder of Hilltrip, co-creator of KosmiK and a messenger for Mother Earth, I strongly believe AWARE's position statement about the Olympic Games is needed. It is true that there is much to be proud of and a lot of it is already being showcased by VANOC, the municipality and media. There is no need for more.

It is not true that the era where AWARE helped Whistler become part of The Natural Step is behind us. AWARE is still involved with it through Whistler2020 and is working in partnerships to move toward sustainability. Maybe we could have pat ourselves on the back by telling the world how great AWARE is by showcasing past accomplishments, which would have been much smarter for a non-profit organization relying on donations. Instead AWARE decided to take the opportunity to send a message to the IOC and future host cities in order to make the Olympic Games more sustainable and take the risk of upsetting people in love with the Olympic Movement, such as Al Whitney, whose whole family is involved in ski racing with the Whistler Mountain Ski Club.

AWARE is not protesting, AWARE is providing a view on the Olympic Games with the health of nature and future generations in mind. These Games might be the "greenest" but they are certainly not green and could become much greener, if the IOC actually cared about the environment as much as it cares for its finances.

The opportunity that AWARE has lost is to praise itself for past accomplishments and collect money to fund its activities, such as its Enviro Kids' Nature Club which is presently in need of funds. Instead, AWARE decided to be a voice for the environment and take a stance for the greater good of humanity.

When I started doing events under Hilltrip and became involved with AWARE I saw the potential of sending a green message to the world during the Games and I mentioned it in the Year Two of Community Now done by the Whistler Museum a few years ago. The Games are here now! Hope some of you can come to Millar Creek Café in Function Junction this Thursday and Friday at 6 p.m. to enjoy GENERATIONS, a short film on skiers' and snowboarders' perspectives on Climate Change done by Teton Gravity Research and presented by Hilltrip.

Enjoy the Games while they're here... they bring great opportunities for growth in all aspect of life !

Marie Fortin

Because Mountains Matter

Hilltrip.com

 

A worthy torch bearer overlooked

I know that it is impossible to have everyone that deserves to be an Olympic torch bearer be one, but it seems that a prominent resident has been grossly overlooked as an Olympic or Paralympic torch bearer for the community of Whistler.

John Ryan has resided in Whistler for the past 22 years and enjoyed many ski seasons here before that permanent move. He continued to live, work and also start his family in this community after suffering a paralyzing injury in a 1994 car accident. The accident left John confined to a wheelchair and yet he continues to be a positive role model, an incredible athlete and a very successful realtor (despite the obvious barriers the profession poses for him in a mountain resort).

Whistler Residents living here in 1999 fondly remember Sept. 11 of that year as the day that the Sea to Sky corridor welcomed The John Ryan Regeneration Tour home from John's four-and-a-half month hand-cycling journey across Canada for spinal cord research. Countless supporters lined the highway and jammed the village for John's victorious return. It was one of the most memorable moments in Whistler's history and dare I say, it was even more electric and emotional than the day years later, that we all learned Vancouver/Whistler had won the 2010 Olympic bid (and that was a special day)!

The John Ryan Regeneration Tour was a huge undertaking and raised over $1 million for spinal cord research. John committed years to preparation, planning and asking friends, family, co-workers, clients and complete strangers for help to make this dream a reality.

It was John's time, money and effort spent to go to many schools before, during and after the tour to speak that gave this tour extra meaning for John, although the main benefit (beyond raising awareness and much-needed funds for spinal cord research) was undoubtedly meeting all the very best people across our country. Whether it was the kids emptying their piggy banks into John's hands in Newfoundland or Her Excellency the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, Governor General of Canada, pinning the Meritorious Service Medal on John after the tour, it was all an incredible honour.

John is the first to admit that it was only with the help of many friends, family, donors and volunteers from across the country that enabled him to accomplish this incredible endeavour, but it was John who rode all those miles (100 km/day, three days on and one day "off" - usually fundraising) and it was also John who ended up in hospital for several months on completion of the tour. He was septic and needed surgery for a pressure sore that had shown itself in Thunder Bay, Ontario and grown considerably by the time John reached his goal of "Mile 0" in Victoria and then up to Whistler. He would just not give up when all of these people had stood beside him in support.

The weeks of laying in hospital didn't dampen John's philanthropic spirit and along with many dedicated volunteers, in the years after the cross-Canada tour John carried on raising money, hosting several very successful "Reserved" charity dinners, raising enough additional funds to endow the $6 million John Penny Ryan B.C. Leadership Chair for Spinal Cord Research at UBC.

I could easily expound on more of John's virtues and reasons for the community to honour him as an athlete and an ambassador of Whistler, but suffice it to say that he is completely and totally worthy of bearing the Olympic torch and it should be considered a complete embarrassment to organizers that he was not asked.

Penny McLeod-Ryan

Whistler

 

Transit has worked

Re: Transportation Embarrassment and We'll Get There Together (Pique letters, Feb. 18)

Sorry that your experience on Saturday night was a poor one. It really sounds like it was a miserable moment, hands down. However, please take the time to reflect on your positioning when talking on behalf of all. Your letter was derogatory, lacked in a positive world view and offered up a true recipe for disaster. Fire those who have done such an amazing job? I don't think so.

Again, sorry to hear about your terrible experience. Hopefully such a "disaster" won't happen again.

To all who have worked hard to make our transport experience an awesome one, thank you! We, as a greater community (including Squamish and Pemberton) were asked to please leave our cars at home, to utilize the transit system and to have faith that it was all going to work out. That it has!

I for one could not be more proud and happier to experience an almost car-free environment - and we owe it all to those who came together to make it happen. Again, thank you.

Monica Petrich

Whistler

 

We are at war

This letter was addressed to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Defence Minister Peter MacKay and MP John Weston. A copy was forwarded to Pique for publication.

I have finally been caught up in the excitement of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in my hometown of Whistler.

What I have heard from several visiting foreigners, though, is that the security here is excessive and it makes them feel as though they are in a war zone. We all know the cost for this security - and it's mind-boggling. We also know the reason and necessity of this security blanket over the Games.

Since the sending of our troops to Afghanistan in a fighting role, we are now more prone than ever before to a terrorist attack here in Canada. The reports coming out of Afghanistan at this time are very disturbing and worrisome to me. The "collateral damage," including the number of civilian deaths of many innocent women and children, breaks my heart. These are supposedly the ones we are there to help, protect and educate.

I am now convinced more than ever that it is wrong for our troops to be in a fighting role over and above self defence. Let's dust off our blue helmets and reestablish our reputation around the world as peacekeepers. The sooner we bring home our troops the more young Canadian lives, innocent Afghan lives and billions of dollars will be saved.

Ueli Kaltbrunner

Whistler