Olympic Dreams Begin with Our Youth
When the International Olympic Committee announced in the summer of 2003 that the 2010 Winter Olympics would take place in Vancouver and Whistler, B.C., Directors at Mount Washington Alpine Resort decided they wanted to be a part of the celebration.
And in the last five years, they have set out to accomplish a five-pronged, purposeful plan to do just that. “When the Olympics were announced…we saw that as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for worldwide exposure of the winter sports in B.C.,” Resort Director of Marketing Karen Bonell said.
“Knowing that we’re separated by a body of water, we knew we were going to have to have a plan if we wanted to capitalize on this opportunity.”
The first thing they did was put together an Olympic strategy, which included five objectives they felt were achievable. Those objectives included aiding local athletes in their Olympic aspirations, constructing a Mountain Sports Centre, attracting international teams to train at the Resort, hosting world events and creating marketing initiatives that would see the Resort partner with other groups to bring the world’s focus to Vancouver Island.
The second thing they did was made the commitment to do everything they could to help Vancouver Island athletes get on the podium.
For that, they established the Vancouver Island Mountain Sports Society, made up of representatives from area alpine, Nordic, biathlon, freestyle ski and snowboard clubs, the Vancouver Island Society for Adaptive Snowsports, the Resort, mountain biking community, PacificSport and members of the community.
The primary mandate is to provide yearly grants to competitive athletes on the Island, to assist in travel costs associated with regional and national competitions and advanced training, Bonell explained.
“When you think about the Olympics, the first thing you should think about is the athletes. So that’s where we started.”
The idea to attract international teams to Mount Washington was a natural progression. The Resort has a competitive edge over other B.C. ski resorts in that conditions at Mount Washington are very similar to the Callaghan Valley, where the 2010 Olympic Nordic events will be staged.
“It’s difficult to penetrate that world,” Bonell said. “It’s taken a lot of time.”