Whistler resident Steve Podborski is a bronze medalist from the 1980 Winter Olympics, World Cup downhill champion in 1982 and the most successful male ski racer in Canadian history. He was also executive director of international relations for the Vancouver 2010 Bid Corporation and was part of the official presentation to the IOC in Prague on July 2, where Vancouver-Whistler were awarded the 2010 Winter Olympics.
He recently sat down with Pique reporter Clare Ogilvie to discuss the Olympics and what the 2010 Games will mean for Whistler.
Pique: How long have you been involved in bringing the Games to Vancouver and Whistler?
Podborski : I began to be involved in the bid in the domestic phase when Charmaine Crooks, one of the IOC members for Canada, asked me to become involved with the athletes committee (five years ago).
I ended up running the athletes committee and then through a series of circumstances ended up sitting on the board of the 2010 Bid Corporation.
We ended up winning (the domestic bid to host the 2010 Games) against Quebec City and Calgary with the catch phrase "international winability."
We felt we had a chance internationally to take forward a bid that would capture the imagination of the IOC and five years later it looks like we were right.
The bid has changed somewhat since then but the founding principles of having two athletes villages, one in Vancouver and one in Whistler, and having the Games focused on athletes and sport has remained true throughout. If I were to make it really simple that would be why we succeeded.
Pique: You are a world-renowned athlete yourself. What is it about the Olympics that is so appealing to people all over the world?
Podborski: I think the Olympics in the best of ways are iconic. It represents the very finest in sporting achievement. It is not a race every weekend or a race every year. It is an event every four years and it isnt about standing alone it is about everyone in winter sport, in this case, who is the best in the world being there together to compete.
For me it is typified in the Opening Ceremony where you parade in. I realized that the best athletes in Canada surrounded me and then I realized that I was with the best athletes in the world and I was one of them. At that stage nobody has played yet so anyone could win, so it is the best of times in the Games.
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