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Whistler Off-Road Cycling Association names new president

Dale Mikkelsen will prioritize three objectives: trail maintenance and construction, the race series, and growing school and youth programs

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With summer now behind us, most Whistlerites are turning their focus to skiing.

But for Dale Mikkelsen, his sights are already set on next year's mountain bike season.

It will be Mikkelsen's first full season since being named president of the Whistler Off-Road Cycling Association's (WORCA) board of directors at the organization's Annual General Meeting on Sept. 20.

Mikkelsen steps into the role after serving as WORCA's director of fundraising for the past two years. He and his family moved to the resort full-time about three and a half years ago, after years spent making the weekend commute. As a builder and developer by trade, he also sits on the municipality's Advisory Design Panel.

Holding the director of fundraising position allowed Mikkelsen access to all the different dynamics of WORCA.

"You see the advocacy in the community but you also see where the money is being spent. You start getting an idea of the bigger picture and how, I guess, your input at the president level could shape new directions and explore new avenues WORCA hasn't gone down," Mikkelsen explained.

While he acknowledges, "riding bikes in the valley is always evolving," Mikkelsen said his main objectives as president will continue to align with the ones WORCA has focused on in recent history, adding that his predecessors, "set up a really great functioning WORCA."

After a successful year marked by a "significant" growth in membership, increased participation in Toonie and Phat Wednesday races and new, creative fundraising partnerships, Mikkelsen said he's looking forward to continuing to prioritize three of WORCA's main objectives: trail maintenance and new trail construction-including plans to expand both the alpine trail network and the Cheakamus zone-evolving WORCA's race series, and growing the schools and youth programs.

Despite increasing the youth programs' capacity this summer, WORCA still had a waitlist of young mountain bikers eager to join.

"Obviously we can do better at getting more youth into our programs," Mikkelsen said. "We've really started the conversation this year (at the board table), but moving into next year (we want to look at) at how we can help involve disadvantaged youth, or youth who wouldn't typically have the opportunity to get on mountain bikes and hit the trails ... Maybe even looking at a more extensive effort of bringing cycling to the school community, so it's more of a full-time thing and not just the summer WORCA blitz."

In addition to the already approved trail expansions, another trail approval WORCA is "expecting imminently" will see the single-track extension of Lord of the Squirrels right down from the Flank trail into the valley.

Mikkelsen isn't the only WORCA board member with a new position this year: "We had a nice turnover. We had continuation of about of half of our board, and then about half of our board is new. I think that helps keep us fresh," he said.

Two board members are also returning after taking a hiatus, with Huw Jones serving as vice president after his previous post as the board's secretary and Kate Whitley returning to the role of race director. Emilie Whittemore will continue to work with Whitley as the director of special events.

This year's board of directors also features both new and longtime residents looking to get involved, including Matt Cooper, WORCA's new director of planning and Ryan Murfitt, who'll serve as director of trails.

Rob McSkimming, Whistler Blackcomb's vice-president of business development (who's set to retire this month), has also joined the board, stepping into a newly created director at large position dealing with stakeholder engagement.

However, just because summer is over doesn't mean mountain-bike season is too. WORCA is all set to host its annual Halloween Costume Toonie, the final race of the year, on Nov. 1 in Lost Lake Park. The ride is scheduled to start at 6 p.m.

WORCA is also hosting a year-ender party with the Whistler Brewing Company scheduled for Oct. 19, to celebrate their Hazy Trail Pale Ale.

"They stepped up as a huge supporter this year and even created a beer for us and TrailForks," Mikkelsen explained.

One dollar from every four-pack is donated to local trail associations through the Trailforks.com app.

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