Whistler has billed the Sochi Olympics as a follow-up to the 2010 Games that were hosted in our backyard.
The Olympic sprit is felt more vividly here because of a deep-seated connection forged while watching athletes from around the world compete for glory on our mountains. For some, that might be a marketing tactic to draw visitors, for others it’s a genuine sentiment, but one thing is certain: we should focus our cheers on Sea to Sky athletes currently competing for gold.
Last week, Myrtle Philip Community School celebrated its five alumni who are in Russia competing. "That's got to be some kind of record," principal Jeff Maynard pondered after the school's own version of the opening ceremonies.
Meanwhile, local ski camp Momentum pointed out the staggering number of its campers and coaches attending — 14 each, with at least seven who have served as both student and teacher.
There are myriad stories like this in our corridor. It should come as no surprise as athletes with a penchant for sliding sports have always been drawn to our slopes. And while we cheer on Canadians from all corners of the country, what really makes the Games special for Whistlerites is the fact that these are our neighbours. They're people we spot in grocery stores, at the local bars, perusing the hardware shop, all competing on behalf of Canada.
Sure, we should be feeling pride as a former host, but with the Games in full swing, we should also recognize how unique it is to have so many world-class athletes in our midst. We’re occasionally reminded of this when we get a rare chance to peak into their world, as we did when halfpipe snowboarder Crispin Lipscomb held a fundraiser locally to help him get to Sochi.
After coming out of retirement to earn a spot to compete last minute, the community stepped up to help him raise the $10,000 he needed to train and travel to Russia. The total was reached in just one night. "The community has been so supportive and the businesses have donated so much of their time and services," Lipscomb told The Question days later.
In part, that's because we're a community full of athletes, recreational and professional. When Maynard asked the gymnasium full of students at the school’s Olympic event how many of them ski and snowboard, for example, nearly every child raised their hand. We might know the exact number of our athletes in Sochi — and cheer loudly for each and every one — but who knows how many future Olympians are out there as well.
And that’s something to celebrate.