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Making the little things add up

Up close with Doug Forseth, Whistler-Blackcomb's head of operations



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On the women’s World Cup downhill course, we’ve made a lot of changes. There will be a whole new start. The run will be wider, but we’ve kept the special feeling of Franz’s Run, the roller coaster feel that made it such a great run.

By keeping a lot of the natural terrain features and rolling feel of the terrain, we think we’ll have a classic downhill course.

Really the guys and girls who have worked on the courses did a hell of a job, considering they were delayed starting for about six weeks while we waited to get our environmental approval from the federal government. All of a sudden we were behind the eight-ball, with three different companies involved waiting for the go-ahead. Fortunately they all stayed with the project, even if they could have moved to somewhere else, and we got back on track.

We had to work around everything, from the discovery of endangered frogs along the course, to the fire regulations that kicked in during the drought this summer.

Pique: I understand there’s also been a lot of work on Raven and Ptarmigan.

DF: Part of that direction comes from talking to the local ski club about their needs, and these runs will be set aside as a training area during the Games. The snowmaking will be put in place next summer.

Some of these new runs will be tested in March when we have the Canadian Nationals here, and in 2008 we will be hosting a World Cup with the men and women both racing the Olympic courses. These are pretty big projects, and we want to have them perfect by the time the Games get here.

Pique: I know Whistler-Blackcomb has been looking to test wind power in the next year. Are there any other environmental projects that are new this year?

DF: We are continuing our work with Sempa Power Projects, with phase two of the Roundhouse expected to cost about $250,000 for a hybrid gas boiler-electric system. This is a good investment for us, as the payback for one of these systems is three to four years. I don’t remember how many tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions we’ve reduced with other Sempa projects, but there is a positive environmental impact as well.

Pique: What about the plans to build a temporary lift to the Timing Flats to move spectators around? Has that project started?