While General Motors' decision to discontinue the Pontiac brand after 2010 will affect thousands of workers, alpine skiing will not be affected by the decision in the near future.
According to Stew Low, director of communications for General Motors Canada, "there is no impact on ski racing. We are a huge supporter of racing, the Olympics and (Alpine Canada Alpin).
"And as long as it makes sense from a marketing perspective we will continue. Pontiac is here until the end of 2010. Consequently we have lots of time to work through the issues around the demise of the Pontiac brand."
Pontiac GMC is the headline sponsor of the Pontiac GMC Cup race series, as well as the national alpine championships. They are also a major financial sponsor of Alpine Canada and athletes competing at the international level. Every year the national ski team books time in General Motors' wind tunnel to test athletes and equipment. As well, GM provides vehicles for one year to every athlete that ranks in the top-10 at the end of the season or wins a World Cup, World Championship or Olympic medal.
Pontiac GMC's involvement in ski racing goes back 40 years, to the time when Nancy Greene was the top racer in the world.
Pontiac GMC is also a major corporate partner of Whistler Blackcomb. Low acknowledged that that relationship might change in the future but reaffirmed GM's commitment.
"Whistler Blackcomb and GM of Canada continue to work together to fulfill the current agreement and leverage our partnership," wrote Low. "Though the phasing out of the Pontiac brand does not change our current agreement, Whistler Blackcomb will continue to work with GM of Canada to ensure both parties maximize the benefit of the partnership."
General Motors' announcement comes as ski racing leaders from across Canada are holding a summit in Calgary to discuss the future of alpine skiing after to the 2010 Games. The goal of the meeting is to build on the momentum of recent years, from the club level to the national team, to ensure that Canada remains in the top echelon of the sport. Long-term athlete development, sport science and new trends in high performance racing are among the topics that will be discussed, with a total of 20 presentations over three days.
While this was not a banner year for the national team compared to the past two seasons it was still significant, with John Kucera becoming the first Canadian male to win the world championship downhill title, Michael Janyk the first Canadian male to win a medal in a technical event at the world championships, Manuel Osborne-Paradis winning his first World Cup downhill, Canadians winning both overall NorAm Cup titles, and the Canadian Para-Alpine Team finishing first among nations for the first time in history.