The Sochi Olympics are about to begin and it is hard to believe that the 2010 Olympics were four years ago!
If you want to relive the glory of the 2010 Games then you should take this opportunity to check out the Olympic exhibit in the museum. We will be open by donation for the duration of the Olympics from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. daily, with a late night opening every Friday until 9 p.m. We have lots of items donated to us by local Olympians and Paralympians on display. You can watch a rousing video of the Games in Whistler and even get a chance to hold the Olympic torch!
We will also be running “Olympic Kids Après” every Thursday during the Games from 3 p.m. until 6 p.m. with a ton of kids’ activities, including making your own medal, LEGO, an Olympic scavenger hunt and some Olympic-themed colouring. Activities are suitable for children of all ages, but they must be accompanied by an adult.
Whistler was built on an Olympic dream. Franz Wilhelmsen and other Vancouver businessmen who went to the Squaw Valley Olympics in 1960 were so inspired by what they saw that they made a commitment to bringing the Olympics to Whistler. They were a little ahead of their time, however. Although their vision led to the creation of the ski hill that grew into the Whistler we love today, at the time there was nothing here: no highway, no hotels, not even a sewage system! Their bid was not successful.
Whistler went on to make four more unsuccessful bids before the final successful one for the 2010 Games.
The bid that came closest to being accepted was for the 1976 Games. Whistler got the nod from the Canadian Olympic Committee for a combined Vancouver/Whistler bid. Everything was in place for a win, but the Montreal bid for the 1976 Olympic Summer Games was successful and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) could not award both Games to the same country.
Whistler celebrated the Montreal win and began planning to bid on the very next Winter Games. The IOC chose Denver, Colorado to host for 1976, but in an interesting twist, Denver declined the opportunity due to public outcry over environmental impacts and rising costs. The IOC offered the Games to Whistler instead. In the interim, however, B.C. had elected a new Social Credit government, which turned down the Games. In 1974, just two years before the event, Innsbruck, Austria, where the 1964 Olympic Winter Games were held, agreed to host.
Whistler’s road to the Olympics was certainly a long one, but I think we can all agree that in 2010 we proved it was worth the wait!
Sarah Drewery is the executive director of the Whistler Museum.