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Whistler Museum hosts MTB Heritage Week

Variety of speakers, events make up inaugural celebration



Sarah Leishman has made an impressive career on the mountain bike scene.

In addition to being a world-class rider, this year competing on the Enduro World Series tour, Leishman is also a writing and social media maven and this has helped her make the most of her globetrotting.

This Sunday, May 22, she'll speak about how coming of age as a rider in Whistler has helped her get to the heights she has attained as part of the first Mountain Bike Heritage Week at Whistler Museum. Leishman will present as part of the Whistler MTB Gone Global talk alongside ZEP Techniques' Paul Howard and a representative from Gravity Logic, which originally built the Whistler Mountain Bike Park before making its services available worldwide.

With Whistler riders making their mark in a number of mountain bike disciplines, Leishman has numerous success stories from which to draw.

"I'm really talking about my history in the valley. What I can offer is really the people who I surround myself with, how they've developed riding in the valley in Whistler in particular, and how a lot of riders have turned into racers from growing up in Whistler on the trails," she said.

Leishman explained the bike park's opening in 1999 was a catalyst for launching local riders to the global stratosphere while entrenching the resort as a site that others with dreams of stardom could use as a home base during training.

"It's how some of the country's top athletes have cut their teeth learning how to ride properly. It's why people move from all over the world to spend their summers in Whistler. Wherever we go on the tour, people always ask us about the bike park," she said.

"It's really easy to get caught up in the minutiae of where trails are built or how trails are built or how trails are changed. A lot of people spend a lot of time on those details because we live in Whistler, and we don't realize how good it is until you leave and your job becomes riding what's considered the best terrain in the world at all these different places," she said. "You realize that nothing comes close to Whistler."

Whistler Museum executive director Brad Nichols said the idea to recognize the resort's mountain biking history came from a brainstorming session with events and community director Jeff Slack and collections manager Alyssa Bruijns last fall.

"We didn't have that much stuff about cycling at the museum and I don't think that people had been viewing it as something to think about historically," Nichols said. "But Whistler has had such a profound impact on mountain biking and mountain biking culture so we saw a need to celebrate this."

Another talk is slated for Saturday, May 21 that analyzes the local community's grassroots in the Whistler MTB: Building A Community presentation. Charlie Doyle, Grant Lamont, Marika Koenig and Chris Kent are all lined up to take part.

Doors for the two events open at 6 p.m. while the talks begin at 6:30 p.m. Tickets for the presentations are $10 for the general public and $5 for museum members.

The week kicked off on May 18 with a history of trail building led by Whistler Backroads' Eric Wight, legendary builder Dan Raymond and former WORCA trails director Jerome David.

Other events slated as part of the week include a retro toonie race on May 19 and a screening of Kranked 3 at Forlise Whistler on May 20. As well, the Revolution: Whistler MTB in Photography and Art opened May 15 at the Maury Young Arts Centre. The gallery, which features Reuben Krabbe, Sterling Lorence, Robin O'Neill, Margus Riga and Justa Jeskova among others, runs until June 14.

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