Message from the Board of Directors
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