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Whistlerites asked to open homes to freestylers

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It was done two years ago in Meiringen, Switzerland and at the previous world championships in Colorado. Now organizers of the 2001 FIS Freestyle World Ski Championships are asking the community of Whistler to do it in Sea to Sky country.

Resort residents are being asked to open up their doors and invite a minimum of two athletes in for a home-cooked meal on the evening of Jan. 15, the night before they compete. There will be around 300 athletes in town for the world freestyle championships, slated for Jan. 17 to 21, and they hail from as far afield as Russia and China, said Leslie Patterson who is helping co-ordinate the dinner event.

She said the concept is designed not to feed hungry competitors but to foster a community spirit around the event. It will give residents an opportunity to meet and talk with athletes before watching them perform.

Patterson estimated about 150 families are needed to successfully pull the event off and, unlike at the previous two world championships, the Whistler dinner event will be highly organized.

Patterson told parents at the last Myrtle Philip community school parent advisory council meeting, that in Switzerland residents just drove up to a central point and yelled: "We’ll take five."

The result was mayhem.

She said anyone waiting to participate in the Whistler version will need to fill out an application form indicating how many athletes they wish to invite, which sex they would like and what language they prefer. Efforts will be made to match athletes with hosts. Patterson said organizers are looking at a minimum of two athletes per household, for safety reasons.

The central pick-up will be at the Whistler Conference Centre, where organizers will be connected with two-way radios to keep track of which hosts have arrived to pick up which athletes. The pick-up times will be staged.

"All we are asking you to do is open up your hearts and your ovens," she told parents.

Patterson said although no real push has yet been made to promote the event, there has already been keen interest from school parents and Rotary club members.

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