News » Whistler

Whistler end of Olympic bid needs work



IOC vice president says no reason two bids from Canada can’t succeed

If the Vancouver-Whistler 2010 Olympic bid has an area of concern it’s Whistler, according to International Olympic Committee vice-president Dick Pound.

"I don’t think there will be much doubt about the indoor venues for 2010," Pound told a Vancouver Board of Trade luncheon March 23. "The challenge will be the sports practised on snow, particularly the alpine events."

Pound didn’t site any problems with Whistler itself or the facilities here, but suggested there are two areas that need work: Whistler’s relationship with the FIS following the cancellation of three World Cup downhill races between 1996 and 1998, and transportation between Vancouver and Whistler.

"The alpine sports are traditionally very important to the Winter Games," Pound told a media scrum following the luncheon. "You’ve got to make sure you’ve got good facilities and that they’re accessible. I think at Whistler with the nordic event area, we have a superb facility. There is a distance between venues, as there has been with many other winter bids and host cities. But what we have to offer in B.C. is an unparalleled opportunity for people travelling from Vancouver to Whistler, and vice versa. Something that can be a net plus rather than a minus. There is a distance, which you can’t change, but where else in the world can you have the drive you do on route 99?"

Pound, a Montreal lawyer, suggested the bid group market the scenic nature of the route between Vancouver and Whistler, improve the highway, and make sure there are transportation alternatives available.

"I think you certainly want to be able to say we’ve always had a terrific road and now it’s even better. And if you don’t want to drive, you can go by train. And if you don’t want to drive or go by train we can get you up as far as Squamish by fairly fast marine transport."

Asked to characterize the road in its present state, Pound said: "It’s fine. I drive up there quite often to visit my son, and it’s okay. But it’s okay if you’re used to driving on mountain roads, and not everybody is."

Pound, who will announce next week whether or not he is a candidate to succeed Juan Antonio Samaranch as president of the IOC, was asked about the importance of a FIS endorsement of Whistler.

"If they come out and say such-and-such a place is no good, that’s a big problem. There’s absolutely no reason they should say that (about Whistler). What’s better is for them to say ‘We’re really happy with Whistler, so that if the IOC decides to come to Vancouver-Whistler we’re good’."