News and Announcements
It is with very mixed emotions that I move on from my position with the Whistler Mountain Ski Club. The WMSC is so much more than a ski club. The community that is the club, and the wider communities that the club are involved with have led me to meet and learn from an incredible range of champions in life.
There is no doubt that it is a big ship to steer, yet with the many incredible staff, members, volunteers and partners it has been an incredibly enjoyable and rewarding experience and since day one it has felt like a team effort.
I cannot express enough gratitude and appreciation to all the staff, volunteers and partners who work tirelessly to keep evolving the club, the programmes and the events that we deliver. It would simply be impossible without such great people and I have certainly benefited from the support at every turn. I have learnt an incredible amount from all of you and I endeavour to take the lessons learnt and the enthusiasm to keep learning forwards with me.
This past season has been particularly challenging, and the club has shown its true colours. With the lack of snow at the start of the year, followed by the inundation of snow, health challenges for key staff members and their families and now the Coronavirus, the team has stepped up, rallied and made the very best of every situation.
I have been truly humbled to work with the entire team that we have. From the athletes who turn up every day to make the most of every opportunity and continually give their best, to the coaches who’s enthusiasm and passion for the sport and their tireless efforts in their pursuit of personal excellence and that of their athletes is remarkable.
One area where I have learnt a great deal and built an enormous respect in my time at Whistler Mountain Ski Club is for everything that goes on behind the scenes. The admin staff who work round the clock to make it all happen, the parents who give enormous support to their athletes, the volunteers who get up in the dark to go on hill or the race office and organise everything from lunches to start lists. You are all true champions in life.
I have received a great amount of support and I am incredibly grateful for the guidance from the Executive Committee and the Board of directors over the last years, and none more so than through the Covid-19 pandemic and the challenge and complexities that this has been, and continues to be creating in the world.
Of course, I am delighted that I will be passing the ‘keys’ back to Bob Armstrong when I leave. Bob transitioned me in and the fact that he will transition me back out shows the level of loyalty, knowledge and passion that Bob has, and I know that together with the board the club is in very good hands particularly in these difficult times.
It is never easy to move on from something that you are completely invested in and there would never be a good time to step away, and with the current challenges it makes it even harder. However, I am very reassured in the knowledge that Bob, Blanca and the coaching team, particularly the Lead Coaches and Athletic co-ordinator, Conrad, Drew, Henry, Mat & Richard will continue to develop the club.
I look forwards to watching the team evolve along with the club and the continued development of Champions in Life and Sport in the years to come and you will be hearing from this team directly in the next few days regarding the transition into next season along with initiatives to be taken over the next several months to strengthen the physical & psychological readiness with the technical and tactical understanding.
Finally however, I am incredibly excited about the challenging journey that lies ahead of me, I will maintain contact with the club and look forwards to see you all again soon (whenever we are allowed to interact).
From the bottom of my heart, thank you all.
March 31, 2020
On behalf of the Club’s Board of Directors, I wish to thank our athletes, staff, members, and stakeholders for your support and patience as we navigate these uncharted waters.
Our world has forced us to take pause, leaving space to consider how we address the varied challenges that life throws at all of us, and I am hopeful that for all of us the Club’s Teamship Values can play a part in that. Centrally, one attribute that all ski racers develop is perseverance in the face of adversity, which will serve us well as we face this unprecedented health crisis together.
I can report that the Club’s Management and Board have been fully engaged over the past fortnight, assessing the impact this quickly changing environment has had on the Club and taking steps to respond prudently to protect the Club’s long-term viability. I am now writing to provide you with an update on our efforts and report on other important developments within the Club.
As the COVID-19 crisis began to unfold in January, the potential impact of international travel restrictions on the Club was closely monitored. Our initial focus was on determining the viability of holding the 2020 event, as we needed to put a cap on ongoing expenditures were the event to be cancelled. However, as the severity of the crisis crystallized the discussion quickly turned to the health and safety of our athletes and volunteers, and following a whirlwind of developments over a two day period we cancelled Whistler Cup on March 12th.
While the Whistler Cup team has done an excellent job of managing preparation expenses, the cancellation of the event has resulted in a financial loss to the Club.
We are working with the 2020 Whistler Cup sponsors to defer their commitments to next year, and we are very pleased to announce that O2E Brands, our title sponsor, has agreed to roll their commitment over to next year’s event. Plans are already underway to bring next year’s Whistler Cup event back, bigger and better than ever.
Early Shutdown of Whistler Blackcomb
Once Vail announced on March 14th that Whistler Blackcomb would be closed for the remainder of the season, it was obvious that the Club’s operations would need to be severely scaled back for several months at a minimum. Club Management moved to suspend programming and immediately began taking steps to reduce operating costs and preserve the Club’s financial resources in light of the significant uncertainties ahead. Seasonal coaching staff were released several weeks early, and all non-essential spending was reduced.
However, recognizing that the Club’s staff are one of the most important assets of the Club, the Club will be keeping our lead coaches and key administrative and athletic staff on until at least April 30th, and we are actively pursuing the recently announced wage subsidies to keep our team engaged through June. The situation on this front is evolving daily and I appreciate your patience as we work through the details on all of this.
The Club will also be taking the step of paying all of our coaches year-end gratuities.
I know many of you have already done so, but do please take the time to reach out to your coaches and let them know that we are thinking of them.
Potential Refund of 2019/20 Program Fees
The Board has spent a considerable amount of time discussing the question of a potential refund of Program Fees to parents for the shortened season. We discussed a number of factors including; the actual number of lost training days, program costs structures, early season termination costs. the Whistler Cup loss and the major uncertainties the Club faces in coming months and into next year, as the COVID-19 crisis and the related economic fallout continues to unfold.
After careful consideration, the Board felt there were too many uncertainties to be in a position to make any decision regarding a potential refund of Program Fees at this time. We plan to revisit this issue during the summer months, once the full impact of the COVID-19 crisis comes into focus.
All Trip Fees relating to cancelled travel are being refunded.
Recruitment of Mark Tilston as Canadian National Ski Team Head Men’s Coach
Mark Tilston has advised the Board that he has accepted the position of Head Coach of the men’s Canadian National Ski Team, and I am personally very pleased to congratulate him for this success.
In announcing his resignation, Mark stressed that leaving the Club was a difficult decision, particularly given the timing, but that his discussions with Alpine Canada had been ongoing since last year and his decision to take the position was not related to the COVID 19 crisis – noting that this poses challenges for all of us no matter where we are. Mark has worked hard to stay in front of the rapidly changing events impacting the Club, and is leaving the Club with an organizational structure capable of addressing the uncertainties ahead. Mark will be sending a personal message following this announcement and will be continuing in his position through April 30th.
The Board thanks Mark for his outstanding contribution to the Club in his five years as Executive Director, and wishes him and his family every success with the new position.
We are very proud to see yet another WMSC Alumni move forward to a position on the Canadian National Ski Team!
Appointment of Bob Armstrong as Interim Executive Director
The Club has appointed Bob Armstrong as Interim Executive Director, effective May 1st.
The Club is very fortunate to have deep bench strength in its senior management team: in addition to having been on staff with the Club for the past seven years, Bob previously served as interim Executive Director for the 2014-2015 season and is also a WMSC parent. Bob is already known to most of our athletes, parents and stakeholders and has a deep understanding
of how the Club operates.
The Board is extremely grateful to Bob for agreeing to step up and provide the Club with the opportunity for a seamless executive transition in a highly uncertain environment. Bob has the unanimous support of the Board and we have great confidence in his ability to lead the Club through the challenging times ahead. A communication from Bob will follow, setting out opportunities for athletes and families to remain connected and engaged through the coming months.
We are living in unprecedented times. We do not know what the “new normal” will be, but we all realize that we will have to adjust to it as it comes.
The Whistler Mountain Ski Club is at its core the sum of the contributions, efforts and character of its past and present athletes, parents, staff and stakeholders, arrayed around a common passion. To all of you, please draw upon and rally around this collective character as we face the challenges ahead, together.
On Behalf of the Board
WHISTLER MOUNTAIN SKI CLUB
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Please return your uniform order by email at firstname.lastname@example.org no later than Sunday, March 29, 2020 by noon.
The U16 National Championships were held in Sun Peaks from March 10-14th and the WMSC had 11 proud athletes that made the selection criteria to be part of the 40 member BC Team.
The event started with an optional 3-day training camp that all but one of the WMSC team elected to take part in. Conditions were mostly sunny and cold and the team had 3 days of excellent SG, GS and SL training. The team had a day off before official timed SG training began on Monday March 9th. It was clear from the SG training times that there was stiff competition from Quebec, Ontario and Alberta teams so they knew they had their work cut out for them when racing began on Tuesday.
Conditions remained cold but athletes awoke to 12cm of fresh snow and strong winds. Course workers and athletes did a fantastic job to get snow off the track and the SG race went off as scheduled. The WMSC struggled to place any athlete into the top-10. Best results for WMSC were Sara Stiel in 14th in the ladies race and Sam Fuller in 18th in the men’s.
Athletes regrouped overnight and had their games faces on for Wednesday’s Giant Slalom race. What looked like a fabulous blue bird day had a surprise in store for everyone involved. A very strong wind developed through inspection and by the time the ladies started it had morphed into a strong gale force tailwind. The gusting wind pushed some of the women to faster speeds on the lower portion of the course than the previous days Super G race and it started to get dangerous.
After several DNF’s and a number of nasty crashes the jury decided to cancel racing and reschedule for the following day. It turned out to be a great decision as the wind died down significantly and an early groom cleared the loose snow that had been blown onto the course.
The GS race went off extremely well and the WMSC had a much better showing. Sara Stiel had 2 great runs to secure 3rd spot in the women’s race and Felix Shorter narrowly missed the top-10 landing in 11th place.
Sadly for everyone involved, Ski Cross and Slalom racing was cancelled due to growing concerns about COVID-19.
Podium results and top WMSC results are posted below:
Ladies: 1st Kaila Lafreniere, 2nd Anne-Catherine Theberge, 3rd Emma Urness
Top WMSC: 14th Sara Stiel, (tie) 59th Ashely Perron, (tie) 59th Erin Husken, 62nd Meagan Doiron
DNF Laura Keogh
Mens: 1st Phillip Bergeron, 2nd Pierick Charest, 3rd Colton BartholomewTop WMSC: 18th Sam Fuller, 28th Jack Thomas, 30th Felix Shorter, 33rd Sascha Gilbert, 38th Milan Novak, 39th Duncan Ross
Top WMSC: 3rd Sara Stiel, 46th Erin Husken, 50th Laura Keogh, DNF Ashley Perron,
DNF Meagan Doiron
Ladies: 1st Kaila Lafreniere, 2nd Maxim Parent, 3rd Sara Stiel (WMSC)
Mens: 1st Pierick Charest, 2nd Gered Thompson, 3rd Phillip BergeronTop WMSC: 11th Felix Shorter, 19th Sascha Gilbert, 40th Duncan Ross, DNF Sam Fuller, DNF Jack Thomas, DNF Milan Novak
Hello again all
I am sure that you have all been following the BC & Canadian government updates and how the situation with the coronavirus evolves.
Due to the recommendations and our responsibility to limit exposure we will be suspending programmes, therefore the 2019-2020 season has now officially ended. This is obviously an enormous anti-climax to the season, but we will endeavour to loop back and ensure that we all take away our learnings from the last months as and when we can.
I have unfortunately had to inform the day rate coaches that the season is over, I hope that you will all join in extending an enormous thank you and best wishes to them for all of their hard work and excellent care of the athletes this season.
We will have limited staff working at the clubhouse and until further notice we will be keeping the front door of the club locked. You can contact myself, Blanca or the Lead Coaches on cellphones or email should you need to.
We will monitor the situation and keep you updated with plans for the 2020-2021 pre-season with any spring, summer and fitness training that may become possible, and of course the winter season ahead.
We are all anxious to get going as soon as we get into the clear, and as much as it’s difficult to miss out on the world class training that we are missing now, we can all vow to make the most of every possible ski day and training session that presents itself in the future. For now let’s do all that we can do to help us all get out the other side of this difficult situation!
In the meantime I urge you all to stay active, stay positive, enjoy the sunshine, and most of all, stay healthy