IOC vice president says no reason two bids from Canada cant succeed
If the Vancouver-Whistler 2010 Olympic bid has an area of concern its Whistler, according to International Olympic Committee vice-president Dick Pound.
"I dont 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 didnt site any problems with Whistler itself or the facilities here, but suggested there are two areas that need work: Whistlers 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. "Youve got to make sure youve got good facilities and that theyre 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 cant 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 weve always had a terrific road and now its even better. And if you dont want to drive, you can go by train. And if you dont 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: "Its fine. I drive up there quite often to visit my son, and its okay. But its okay if youre 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, thats a big problem. Theres absolutely no reason they should say that (about Whistler). Whats better is for them to say Were really happy with Whistler, so that if the IOC decides to come to Vancouver-Whistler were good."