Whistler's got two new mayors to help it welcome the world during the 2010 Olympics.
Local residents Anna Fraser Sproule and Alan Kristmanson, both past Olympians, will be the honorary mayors of the Olympic and Paralympic Village throughout the Games.
"We are welcoming the world to Whistler Village," said Fraser Sproule, a former freestyle aerial skier.
"We want to make sure that within the village the athletes feel it is their home. It will be one of our responsibilities that through the team welcome ceremonies and the different activities that people do feel it is their home and have a good time."
Whistler's elected mayor, Ken Melamed, echoed that sentiment.
"Whistler is honoured to have such inspirational people named today as village mayors for the 2010 Winter Games," he said.
"They will be the face of Whistler for athletes around the world."
Kristmanson, part of Canada's Olympic basketball team at the 1988 Seoul Games, said the honourary mayors will also be the go-to people when village residents want to explore and enjoy Whistler.
"(Olympic organizers) want someone who understands the outside of the village aspect of Whistler," he said from Hawaii, where he is on vacation with his family.
It will also be the job of the mayors to make sure the village is home to both those still focusing on their event and those who are finished competing and are focusing on socializing.
"It could be challenging because the downhill happens the first day, so there will be some athletes who are done after the first day. But there are others who won't compete until the last day... so we need to make sure that those who need to can get away and visualize and focus and unwind."
There will also be many different cultures represented in the village and, said Kristmanson, a level of respect for all must be maintained.
The mayors, who are volunteers, will be present at every flag raising celebration and will act as guides to visiting dignitaries coming to the village. They will also liaise with volunteers and workers to makes sure life is running smoothly.
For Kristmanson being part of the village at the Seoul Games is one of his best memories.
"...What I remember most about the Olympics, other than competing, is the interaction with all the other athletes in the village setting. It was pretty cool, amazing," he said.
"It's a place where all the disciplines get to intermingle."
Said Fraser Sproule: "As an athlete you work in your sport but at the Olympics it is an opportunity to see all the athletes so it will be a wonderful experience."
Fraser Sproule and Kristmanson will take up their official mantles when the village opens in February.
Fraser Sproule, a married mother of two, competed at the 1988 Olympic Winter Games in Calgary and was the 1986 World Cup title winner. A broadcast colour commentator for freestyle skiing, including covering three Olympic Winter Games, she was also a board member of the Vancouver 2010 bid corporation.
Kristmanson, who is also part of the 2010 torch relay, was a member of the Canadian national men's basketball team from 1987 to 1992. A married father of two, he competed at the Seoul Olympics in 1988 where the Canadian basketball team placed sixth. He is currently golf director at the Whistler Golf Club.
Mayors have also been named for the Vancouver Athletes' Village and for the villages during the Paralympic Games.
The villages will house more than 6,500 athletes and team officials arriving in 2010, as well as acting as the workplace for an estimated 5,500 workforce members.
"Each of the men and women named today as village mayors for the 2010 Winter Games will add an inspirational presence in these homes away from home for the athletes and officials who will start competing here in less than 70 days," said John Furlong, Chief Executive Officer of the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in a statement.
"These mayors understand the thrills, as well as the pressures, of competing on the world stage - many of them have competed and won medals at past Olympic and Paralympic Games," continued Furlong, who personally asked each mayor to take up the mantle.
Olympic mayoral duties at the Olympic and Paralympic Village Vancouver in February 2010 will be shared by Man in Motion Rick Hansen and Tricia Smith, an Olympic silver medallist and seven-time world championship medal winner in rowing.
The Paralympic mayoral duties in Vancouver in March 2010 will be shared by sports medicine clinician Dr. Douglas Clement and his wife Diane who competed for Canada as a sprinter at the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne, Australia.
Their counterparts in Whistler during the Paralympic Winter Games will be four-time Paralympian Marni Abbott-Peter and three-time Paralympian Patrick Anderson.
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