By Andrew Mitchell
Whistler’s Alison Leighton is one of the top alpine skiing prospects in Canada, wrapping up her strong 2005-06 season with a second place super G finish in the Pontiac GMC National Championships last March, as well as 14 th place results in downhill and slalom. Although she had some home field advantages with the nationals taking place in Whistler, she proved she was equal to members of both the national and development teams.
At 19 years old she will be returning to the B.C. Ski Team this year, where she has the potential to qualify for the national team and World Cup circuit with a strong showing in Nor Am Cup and Pontiac GMC Cup races, and national championships. She also hopes to compete at the World Junior Championships in Austria this February.
For the next crucial year and a half she will also have the added support of the Coast Whistler Hotel, as the latest recipient of the Coast Hotels and Resorts’ Athlete Assistance Program (CAAP). The hotel chain will match up to one-third of funds raised by Coast Whistler employees, up to a maximum of $10,000 per year. Coast Whistler employees will organize fundraising events and support Leighton through their own in-house fundraising.
Snowboarder Dan Raymond was the first local recipient of the CAAP program, receiving assistance for a year and a half.
The CAAP program is targeted at athletes who train and compete at the national level, but do not have funding from Sport Canada. This summer Leighton trained with the Canadian Alpine Ski Team at Farnham Glacier, a summer glacier training centre in the Kootenays. This week she also joined the team at the PacificSport performance lab at UBC for testing, before heading to Invermere for more on-snow training at Panorama.
Leighton was chosen from six qualified candidates, including a snowboarder, a Paralympic skier and a cyclist.
“The decision was a difficult one, but the Coast management team decided on this young Whistler hopeful,” said Andrea Lovasz, director of sales and marketing for Coast Whistler Hotel. “Alison was raised here in Whistler and is a true local and we are keen to support within our community.”