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Heavy equipment was moved onto Whistler Mountain early this week after the W5 group and the Hong Kong Bank of Canada reached an understanding on funding which will bring World Cup men’s downhill racing to Whistler each December for at least the next 10 years. "We’re going ahead," said Don McQuaid of the Masters Group, which has been involved in the negotiations. "Everybody is willing and wanting this thing to happen... there’s no turning back now." Putting the final pieces of the deal in place has, like the whole concept, taken longer than expected. After nearly a year of negotiations with the International Ski Federation, Alpine Canada and Halva, a Swiss company which bought the marketing rights to World Cup races in Canada, the W5 group secured commitments that Whistler would host men’s downhill and super G races each December for the next decade. However, in order to put on December races $3 million was needed to install snowmaking and summer groom the Dave Murray Downhill course, so that a race could be run with minimal snow cover. The Hong Kong Bank of Canada offered the $3 million interest-free loan but required guarantors for the loan. The municipality has agreed to guarantee $1.5 million, Whistler Mountain agreed to guarantee $1 million and the Whistler Resort Association will guarantee the last $500,000. The exact wording of terms of the loan and the guarantees were still being worked out this week. Negotiations reached a temporary impasse late last week, but by Monday all parties had enough confidence remaining details could be resolved that they announced the race was on. "Due to overwhelming support within the community — local contractors, the resort association, the municipality — we are moving ahead to have this race in December and for many years into the future," David Perry of Whistler Mountain said in a release. "There are still some details to be worked out but the consensus of the W5 group is that we’re going to go for it with gusto this year and get the job done, no matter what." "The community deserves a real pat on the back for persevering," McQuaid added. "There’s been amazing support from the community, that’s what’s made this happen." Alpine Canada President Patrick LaForge said in a release: "The men’s World Cup downhill season opener not only has a home, but it has the best home in the world. Dave Murray knew well what this event means to the Canadian alpine skiing community and our national team. "We can really empathize with all the great people of Whistler as they’ve gone through the process of structuring this event to perfection." Because of the delays in finalizing the deal construction crews will be working overtime to get the snowmaking and summer grooming done in time for the Dec. 7-8 races. However, they don’t anticipate any problems meeting that deadline.

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