When it comes to sports, few communities are as active as Whistler. For example WORCA, the local mountain bike club, is the largest in the world with over 1,100 members and up to 400 riders in weekly races. Youth soccer regularly enrolls over 400 kids. There are 300 kids in gymnastics. The community fields recreational and rep teams in almost every age group, and enrollment is high in ski, Nordic, and snowboard programs.
This past week, three Whistler residents won their age categories in the UBC Triathlon.
That's in addition to all the Olympic-calibre skiers and snowboarders representing Canada on the world stage, top road and mountain bikers and other high performance athletes that grew up here, or moved here for the recreational opportunities.
This week the Resort Municipality of Whistler acknowledged the role that community facilities play in developing high performance athletes with the launch of the "We Support" program.
The full details of the program will be announced at a Community Sport Meeting on Thursday, March 26, from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Myrtle Phillip Community Centre. Roughly speaking, the program will allow Whistler's community sport organizations to apply for passes to Meadow Park Sports Centre and other municipal facilities on behalf of their elite members.
The programs is known as the "Whistler Elite" or "WE" pass, which complements the CAN PASS program for high performance athletes in the Canada Sport Centre Pacific system.
The RMOW has developed criteria where the number of passes awarded to each association is based on membership numbers, as well as other criteria that will be announced on March 26.
"What we're looking at doing, and we will be explaining in greater detail at the meeting, is having community groups nominating their athletes," said Roger Weetman, manager of recreation services for the RMOW.
Some of the qualification criteria released suggest that athletes must be 16 or older, or age 13 to 15 with a weights orientation course. You will also need to live and train in Whistler to qualify, and should be a member of a Sport B.C. or Sport Canada-affiliated organization (e.g. hockey players are connected through the B.C. Amateur Hockey Association), while training to compete at the provincial level.
A maximum number of passes will be available to every sports organization based on membership, up to a pre-determined limit. For example, a sports organization may get one WE Pass for every 50 members, but WORCA's 1,000 members may only get seven WE passes. All applications will be evaluated by a Whistler Elite Project Team.
While the WE Pass program is centred around access to Meadow Park, passes could include the Lost Lake cross-country ski trails at the discretion of Weetman.