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With a 10 year commitment to host men’s World Cup downhill and super G races, the next task of the W5 group is to find the money for snowmaking, fibre optic cable and summer grooming on the Dave Murray Downhill. Between $2 million and $3 million is needed for the work, but members of the W5 group — which includes the Chamber of Commerce, Whistler Mountain, the resort association, the municipality and the Vancouver Ski Foundation — say the 10 year commitment to Whistler by the FIS should make it easier to find someone willing to put up the money. Whistler Mayor Ted Nebbeling travelled to Sierra Nevada, Spain to meet with FIS President Marc Hodler and Secretary Gian Franco Kasper last week. People who have dealt with the FIS gave him little chance of obtaining more than a two year commitment from the organization, but they were pleasantly surprised. "This kind of commitment is unprecedented," said Bill McNeney, chief of Race for the Whistler downhills and a member of the Vancouver Ski Foundation. "This puts us right up there with Kitzbühel, Wengen and Garmisch on the road to becoming a ‘classic’." Nebbeling said he suggested to Hodler and Kasper that at the end of the 10 year period Whistler could be looking at hosting the world championship. "They thought it was a super idea," he said. "They endorsed the idea, but we haven’t made a formal application. If we want to we’ll have to go to New Zealand next fall for the FIS meetings." The commitment to Whistler to host men’s speed events each December allows the W5 group to build a season-opening festival around the races. The W5 group plans to create a Whistler Valley Foundation which, once the loans for the snowmaking and other improvements are paid off, will become the beneficiary of the festival. A similar foundation in Vail developed out of efforts to attract World Cup races, and ultimately the world championships. The Vail Valley Foundation now awards several scholarships annually, supports the arts in a number of ways and has built an outdoor theatre. A meeting of people working on the Whistler Valley Foundation was scheduled for March 1. While Whistler has secured the men’s races, FIS representatives are also interested in bringing women’s World Cup races to Whistler. Owen Carney, chief of course for the Whistler events, was in Spain for the recent world championship events and was asked by FIS Safety Director Jan Tischauer if Whistler was interested in hosting women’s races. While Nebbeling had a letter from Alpine Canada endorsing his efforts to bring the men’s races to Whistler, the national federation would like to keep the women’s speed events in Alberta.

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