The world is coming to Whistler in less than 14 months for the Olympics, but Whistler has been going to the world for a lot longer than that. Athletes that call Sea to Sky home and grew up skiing Whistler and Blackcomb are also among our leading 2010 hopefuls, skiing and riding against the best of the best from dozens of countries.
In that sense, 2008 was a big year for Whistler. In alpine skiing, Britt Janyk ranked third in the world in downhill last season and seventh in super G, with two World Cup medals to her credit.
In snowboarding, Maëlle Ricker won the overall snowboardcross globe with several podium appearances, while Crispin Lipscomb won the final World Cup halfpipe event and Brad Martin netted gold and silver at Canadian World Cup stops.
Mogul skier Kristi Richards is from the Interior, but calls Whistler home for part of the year. She was on the podium three times last season. Sylvia Kerfoot also won her first World Cup medal, a silver in Czech Republic.
In ski halfpipe — which isn’t an Olympic discipline yet but probably should be — Sarah Burke was crowned as the overall champion.
Canada also has a lot of solid contenders in ski cross, which is an official sport in 2010. The Whistler list includes Davey Barr, Brian Bennett, Ashleigh McIvor and Julia Murray.
Whistler doesn’t have international level Nordic skiers or sliders yet, but that’s changing quickly now that our venues and development programs are in place.
Stepping back a level, there are good reasons why Whistler produces so many great athletes. A lot of it has to do the terrain around here, the consistent snow and long seasons, how close we are to Vancouver — but part of it has to do with the culture as well. From grassroots park events on the mountains to a competitive ski racing series for kids as young as 11, there is a progression that athletes can follow all the way to the top.
Here are a few of the highlights of the 2008 season
Jan. 3-5 — Whistler’s Garrett Milan is selected as an all-star at Canada’s largest AAA hockey tournament. He now plays for the Penticton Vees in the BCHL, and was drafted by St. Cloud State, an NCAA Division I team.
Jan. 4-5 — Whistler Olympic Park held its first ski jumping competition, the Canadian Ski Jumping Championships.
Jan. 12 — Whistler Mountain Ski Club alumnus Manuel Osborne-Paradis wins a bronze medal in the Wengen downhill, the third medal of his career.