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w5 meeting 602

World Cup and other options considered Whistler is still on the World Cup calendar to host men’s speed races next December but discussions among the W5 Whistler Foundation, Alpine Canada and members of the Olympic bid group today (Jan. 15) may lead to new World Cup dates. "I’d be amazed if anyone is advocating going back to the December World Cup date," said W5 President Peter Webb. "I think the feeling is we’d like to stay involved if there’s a World Cup event at a time other than December, but we’ve made no decisions," Webb added. The W5 Foundation met last week to review its options and priorities following the cancellation of the men’s World Cup downhill and super G at Whistler for the third December in a row. FIS Race Director Guenther Hujara said after the races were cancelled that he could no longer support scheduling downhills at Whistler in December. From the W5 perspective the WinterStart festival, which was originally designed to support the December World Cup events, was very successful, helping draw a record number of visitors to the resort for that time of year. The W5 group is committed to the WinterStart festival but is looking at events other than the World Cup to complement the snowboard events and other activities of the festival. The W5 has established some criteria for new events, including greater flexibility in scheduling and television coverage. The Ford pro downhill series is one possibility being considered. While the W5 has established its criteria for events, today’s meeting with Alpine Canada is intended to establish what that organization’s needs are as far as ski races. Alpine Canada wants men’s ski races in Canada to show off its team and give the racers a chance to compete on home turf. However, the only Canadian venues the FIS will consider for men’s World Cup downhills are Whistler and Panorama, both of which are owned by Intrawest. There may be dates on the World Cup calendar other than December when downhills could be staged at Whistler, however they might not be available every winter. Another option could be to host technical events, rather than a downhill and super G. "I think everyone feels there’s real merit in staying involved with the World Cup," Webb said. "Whether its on an annual basis or not remains to be seen." The World Cup calendar for next winter will be finalized at FIS meetings in May. Meanwhile, the Vancouver-Whistler Olympic bid is now part of the World Cup equation. Alpine Canada didn’t win any points with ski officials in B.C. or with Intrawest when it publicly declared its support for Calgary’s Olympic bid last November. However, since Vancouver-Whistler was chosen over Calgary and Quebec by the Canadian Olympic Association, Alpine Canada, the W5, Intrawest and a new Olympic bid committee find themselves having to work together. The new Olympic bid committee is being put together now and will include members of the COA. Following the COA’s decision to put forward Vancouver-Whistler as the Canadian bid for the 2010 Winter Olympics the Vancouver-Whistler Bid Society was disbanded.