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WMSC gears up for new season

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Ski club sets sights on competitions, 2010

There’s a new energy at the Whistler Mountain Ski Club this season, and it’s coming from a lot of different places.

According to Brett Macfarlane, FIS and junior coach as well as the communications manager for the club, coaches, athletes and parents are starting to realize the potential that is out there.

One of the sources of this new energy is the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Bid and the LegaciesNow program.

"Our FIS racers are realizing that this is about them – our athletes will be competing for gold in 2010, and that’s pushing us," Macfarlane says.

Although the initiatives in the new Podium 2010 program launched by Alpine Canada Alpin have yet to reach the club level, Macfarlane says the coaches and parents are familiar with it, and feel the sport is moving in the right direction.

"I think it really is the return of Canadian pride in the sport, and the pursuit of victory. The kids see that and they want to go for it," Macfarlane says.

"For the last decade we have focused on participation in the sport, which is fine, but at the same time we haven’t been doing that well. The ACA puts the emphasis back on winning, and that can mean a lot of different things. For some kids that means winning medals, and moving up the ranks. For others, that just means showing up and winning their own little battles, making new personal bests.

"We look at athletes individually in terms of what they want to achieve, and we help them to get there."

Macfarlane also praised the ‘holistic’ approach to athlete development that is being suggested by the ACA that takes long-term education and health into consideration, and works with parents to meet their needs.

"We’ve always tried to balance athletics with education, and social needs, and we have a great relationship with the school. This is a bigger approach to make skiing a way of life for life for these kids. If they go to university down the road, they can still ski race there," Macfarlane says. "Right now there is a tendency to see athletes as pieces of meat. You bring them along as far as you can and discard them when they get a little bit stale."

Attendance in the club’s summer racing programs doubled compared to last year, and registration is up at the FIS and K2 level (age 13 and 14) this year. In addition, the dryland training camps in Whistler and the city were well attended.

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