Whistler's first swimsuit calendar has won the bronze award as the Best Wall Glamour Calendar in the 2011 National and World Calendar Awards.
"It would be like receiving an Academy Award for a calendar," said Shannen Carlson, creator of the calendar, who pointed out that calendars from Maxim and Penthouse have been nominated in the past for the same award.
But unlike Penthouse and Maxim, Carlson isn't striving for suggestiveness: "It's a classy calendar; there's no nudity or inappropriate posing of any sort."
The calendar is called Whistler Exposed, and features local models - all bikini clad, of course - highlighting different Whistler attractions such as skiing and snowmobiling while posing in front of scenic local backdrops.
Carlson came up with the idea shortly after she moved to Whistler and noticed that there wasn't any locally-based swimsuit calendars.
"I had been involved as a cheerleader with Winnipeg Blue Bombers and the B.C. Lions dance teams and I had partaken in some of the calendars that they did over they years," recalled Carlson. "I had always been interested in the production side of things, so when I moved to Whistler, I did some research and I realized that there was no local swimsuit calendar and I wanted to kind of become the pioneer of that in this town."
Carlson then went about recruiting local girls to model for the calendar, a search that's turned into a yearly event of its own.
"We're looking for the natural, athletic Whistler girl with a great personality. It's also very important that a model should have no fear when it comes to being photographed in treacherous cold weather wearing only a swimsuit," said Carlson, who also noted that models are also responsible for promoting the calendar at events and fundraisers.
And fundraising is a big part of what makes the calendar special.
"A few years ago, a boyfriend of mine was in a near-fatal snowmobiling accident that broke his back and left him hospitalized for nearly a year. I spent a lot of time in the hospital and in the rehabilitation centre with him and I got a lot of awareness for it."
With that in mind, Carlson decided that proceeds from the sale of each calendar goes towards spinal cord research, and in October 2010, Carlson handed a cheque for $10,000 over to the Canadian Spinal Research Organization.
"In a community where spinal injuries are all too common, I felt that it was really important to bring more awareness to this cause. I didn't think that there was enough fundraising in the community being done, and if a bunch of girls can put some bikinis on and raise a bunch of money then I think that's great."
The 2011 Whistler Exposed calendar is still on sale, and the price has been reduced to $10. "You can find it at The Grocery Store, 49th Parallel, Armchair Books, The Cigar Company, and Lordco, just to name a few," said Carlson. The calendar is also available online at www.whistlerexposed.com.
Whistler Exposed will also be holding its model search for 2012 models sometime in the next few weeks, and anyone interested can find out more by emailing email@example.com.