Whistler hosts many events in any given winter, but few have the history or legacy of the Parsons Memorial.
The race is now entering its 29th year, but commemorates a series of events that started 40 years ago. Bob Parsons grew up in Vancouver in the 1940s, the joined the Whistler Mountain Ski Club in the late '60s. He became a dedicated volunteer, Weasel Worker and race director for the club, and in 1969 he created a downhill series for young racers, the Back Bowl Downhill, giving athletes a chance to race speed events safely and progress to the next level.
Parsons died in 1979, and the following year the event was renamed the Bob Parsons Memorial. His son Jim won the first memorial race in 1980, and his granddaughter Alison Leighton competed twice, winning silver and bronze.
Several members of the national team have also competed is the Parsons Memorial over the years, including Manuel Osborne-Paradis and Britt Janyk.
"Some of my best memories as a young racer are from my first Parsons downhill event," said Janyk. "It is such a great, safe opportunity for young skiers to get a feel for the speed disciplines. I believe that being able to do some speed races at that age helped my skiing tremendously. Everyone is having a great time and you get to go fast."
The race has changed locations and formats over the years. This weekend it will take place on Raven, with two or three super G races.
Sponsored by Teck and the Vancouver Sun, training gets underway today (Thursday, Jan. 22), followed by another training day and possibly timed runs on Friday. Official races are on Saturday and Sunday, and awards will be presented at 3:30 p.m. daily at World Cup Plaza in Creekside.