As a longtime coach himself, new Whistler Mountain Ski Club (WMSC) executive director Mark Tilston knows coaches generally want to do as much as they can for their clubs.
But sometimes, it can lead to burnout.
That's why at its annual general meeting on Oct. 12, the WMSC announced some changes to its travel plans for the coming year. If coaches have been up on the mountain during the day, they and their teams will stay overnight if they face a trip longer than four hours.
"Sometimes they've been up since 5 a.m. and then they go up the hill and then we ask them to drive eight hours," Tilston said. "There might be six times we have to pay for an extra night at a hotel."
In the membership survey the club conducted at the conclusion of the 2014-15 season, FIS racers were among the most concerned about safety and had noted some of the driving circumstances as a particular example. Still, Tilston noted it was a particular concern of his coming into the position, taking over for interim executive director Bob Armstrong, as he'd seen some close calls in his day, including a couple of accidents. He stressed there were no incidents within the club that provoked the change, adding it was a proactive measure.
In addition to keeping coaches fresh, Tilston hopes to approach sponsors in the hopes of getting some new wheels for the club. Among its fleet is a 20-seater van commonly used for long hauls, but he hopes to land two 10-seater vans or, ideally, two 15-seater vans in the near future.
"They're easier to drive for the coaches," he said. "They're more comfortable for the athletes."
The change comes at a time where the club lost roughly $40,000 during a tough snow year.
"If it's two degrees colder than last year, that would make a huge difference," he said, noting snowmaking and grooming expenses rose in the face of warm temperatures.
One other contributing factor was that the club didn't host any FIS races at all last season, a circumstance Tilston said did more to increase expenses than revenues.
"Running races doesn't really make money for the club," he said. "It just means our other racers have to go elsewhere so that increases travel costs and expenses."
As well, the club's fundraising efforts were somewhat hamstrung by difficulty replacing former executive director Nigel Loring, who left the club in August of 2014. Armstrong took over at the last minute. Though the club's fundraising revenue fell, it also cut its fundraising expenses significantly to keep in line with past years by bringing in a net of roughly $200,000. As well, fees for all programs were raised to cover rising costs after holding steady for the last five years.
Tilston said during the meeting the club anticipates a modest surplus of roughly $8,600 for the coming season.
As well, WMSC hopes to get more use out of the club cabin with such initiatives as hosting socials in order to offset some of the expenses associated with it.
Also at the AGM, John Legg, Hans Lundin, Bill Sheel and Shannon Susko were all named to the board by acclamation while Russell Smith and Dickson Wong completed their terms.