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Y es, the Olympics do generate a lot of money, and actually, Michel, much of it goes to good causes-such as the Canadian sport system. The Calgary Olympic Development Association, created with the Legacy money from the 1988 Calgary Games, has been a magnificent example of success, supporting facilities that transformed Canada into a world force in bobsledding and the world leader in long-track speedskating. The 2010 Whistler Olympics could enable us to do that with other sports.
After years of watching Olympic downhill races on courses that are anything but Olympic, we also will get a race in Whistler that will test athletes in every way. With the maximum vertical drop and length, plus severe technical and gliding tests, the Whistler course is a true Olympic challenge. As for the weather, we’ve had almost 50 FIS speed events at Whistler in the past 20 years, and only two were cancelled in February, the “Olympic period.” Weather will not be a problem.
Whistler has been extremely successful as an international resort. But to ensure that status in the future, it needs more sports facilities-cross-country tracks, biathlon courses and ski jumps. We could also build training facilities-winter and summer-from the Legacy money generated by the Games. Imagine the Whistler region having the sports facilities that Park City and Salt Lake City have built for 2002. The Utah Winter Sports Park is booked year-round.
My dream for 2010 is to see my two children, who will be 21 and 19, standing on the Olympic podium in Canada accepting an Olympic gold medal (or silver or bronze). I won my bronze in downhill at Lake Placid in 1980. If that little town in the Adirondacks can host an Olympic Winter Games, then Vancouver and Whistler can absolutely put on a world-class show.
It may not be my kids, but rather yours that stand on the Whistler podium in 2010-or perhaps your neighbor’s. And even if they’re not competing, they can volunteer to be a part of the community spirit. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Let’s not let it slip away.