Two years ago, when the PacificSport Sea to Sky office was created, there were about 60 Sport Canada carded athletes living in the corridor. This year, with maybe a dozen athletes still en route, the number is already 96.
Part of the reason is that more athletes are registering with PacificSport to take advantage of programs and expertise offered, and part has to do with athletes wanting to train at 2010 Winter Games venues.
“In the last few months we had five cross-country skiers move here, some freestyle skiers moved up to be closer to training, some ski cross athletes have relocated here, and we have more snowboarders relocating from the east for the winter months,” said Tami Mitchell, regional coordinator for PacificSport Sea to Sky. “We’re expecting the luge athletes to move here first next spring when the sliding centre opens, and then an increase in sliding sport athletes soon after that.”
The housing situation in Whistler is making things difficult for athletes, many of whom have already relocated to Squamish.
Jordan Williams, head coach and program director of the newly created B.C. Ski Cross team, will be basing the program out of Whistler this year. As a result about seven more athletes have either made the move or are in the process of moving to Whistler.
“Three of the athletes are (Whistler Mountain Ski Club) coaches, so they are already established in the valley, they have work here and have a ski pass, and they’re already well set up,” he said. “As far as accommodation goes we’ve always left it up to the athletes, but this year is rough. I know some of them will end up living on couches, at least for the first while, and I don’t think it’s an easy thing for them at all.
“Being an athlete, working your butt off to cover rent, and spending the rest of your time in training, is tough. But everybody is committed, and have taken out their lines of credit to make this happen. Now they’re in our hands to work with, and we expect to show that if we have an opportunity to work with the athletes we can make them faster.”
Williams says the demands of the sport attract a certain mentality that is rare, as well as a strong level of commitment. One of the team prospects became interested in the sport after competing in the Red Bull Crashed Ice skatercross event on the frozen streets of Old Quebec City, which is basically ski cross with ice skates and hockey gear.