The fact that 2006 is an Olympic year, and that the next Winter Games in 2010 will have events in Whistler, doesnt seem to have been lost on anybody. Canadians spent the last year trying to qualify for 2006, and a younger generation of athletes has started training in earnest for 2010.
For Whistler, its a busy time. At least five Whistler athletes snowboarders Crispin Lipscomb, Maëlle Ricker, Justin Lamoureux, Mercedes Nicoll, and skier Mike Janyk have already qualified to represent Canada in Torino, Italy in February, and theres a good chance that a few others will make the cut as well, or fill in for injured teammates.
Whistler also hosted a Vancouver Canucks training camp this summer, and so far at least eight players from their roster have been selected to compete on their Olympic teams. For Canada, Todd Bertuzzi and Ed Jovanovski were selected by team manager Wayne Gretzky.
For Team Finland, Jarkko Ruutu and Sami Salo made the cut.
But its the Swedish roster that will borrow the most Canucks, with Markus Naslund, Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, and Mattias Ohlund heading to Italy.
This year Whistler also hosted a game between the B.C. Breakers and Calgary Oval Extreme of the Western Womens Hockey League. Most of the Olympic players on those teams were still at a tournament against the U.S. team, but at least four Oval Extreme players were selected this year for the Olympic womens team Colleen Sostorics, Cassie Campbell, Danielle Goyette and Hayley Wickenheiser.
The top players may not have been in Whistler this year, but all of them were here the year before including Team U.S.A. captain Cammi Granato.
Whistler has also hosted a few Olympic qualifying events. In the past 12 months weve had the FIS Snowboard World Championships (January) and a FIS Snowboard World Cup (December).
The mountains also hosted the Sierra Wireless Whistler Cup, which helped Canadian coaches to identify alpine skiing prospects.
As 2010 nears, Whistler will be hosting test events for the Olympics some as early as 2007. The new Whistler Nordic Centre in the Callaghan will host national and international cross-country, biathlon, ski jumping, and Nordic combined events. The new sliding centre on Blackcomb will host bobsled, luge and skeleton events. And the new and/or improved runs on Whistler will host World Cup alpine skiing events again including an event that would feature all five disciplines and both genders.
If you think 2005 was a busy year, wait until you see 2008.
Here are some of the highlights of Whistler and Canadian sports from 2005.