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Progress continues on gymnastics facility

Whistler Blackcomb Foundation grant of $210K to pay for new equipment

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Jan Budge, president of Whistler Gymnastics, says the club was grateful for the foundation’s support.

“The Whistler Blackcomb Foundation has been supporting us by smaller amounts every year for purchasing different pieces of equipment, and we’ve been discussing this for the last few years knowing that this facility was coming. We were thrilled to find out that we were chosen this year,” she said.

Since Whistler-Gymnastics is a set-up and take-down facility, where the equipment is moved back and forth from storage every night, the equipment wears out faster than in a full-time gym. As well, the grant is funding equipment that the club has never had before given its limited time and storage.

“Right now we don’t have a full floor, we have three strips of floor to train on. We’ll have a 30-foot tumble track, which we’ve never had, full boys’ equipment that we’ve never had — a high bar, rings, pommel horse and parallel bars. We also have an in-ground trampoline with harnesses, as we’ve been talking with the national freestyle team, and for their training they need a certain roof height and harnesses.”

Budge says the goal is to fill Oros all day, seven days a week, with programs, including a new boys gymnastics program, trampoline and tumbling classes, local sports programs, summer camps, and gym meets.

It’s still unknown when the gymnasts will be able to start using the facility, before or after the 2010 Games. If they are allowed to move in before the Games, it will be with the understanding that they will have to move out for several months to allow the space to be turned into a cafeteria — the original plan for the space.

“VANOC (Vancouver Organizing Committee) said they needed an area of a certain size and we said that’s perfect for us,” said Budge. “We initially wanted to be in the arena when that was being planned, but when we saw the huge shell they were going to have for the cafeteria at the athletes’ centre we said we can fit in there. Everything has been built for us, holes for the trampoline and foam pit, and they’ll just cover it up with wood flooring during the Olympics.”

Also unknown at this point is who exactly will manage the facility after 2010 — the Resort Municipality of Whistler contributed $2 million to construction, but it will likely be run by the Whistler Legacy Society, which is charged with running 2010 facilities after the Games. Whistler Gymnastics will pay rent to use Oros, but with a free hand to plan and run programming through the season.