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Museum Musings: Cup runneth over

'Whistler has hosted many Cup competitions, from World Cup races for various sports to the Whistler Cup that celebrated its 30th edition earlier this year'
Participants in the 1985 Sun Life Corporate Cup navigate through the obstacle course wearing snowshoes.

Whistler has hosted many Cup competitions, from World Cup races for various sports (such as the Eberspächer Luge World Cup races held at the Whistler Sliding Centre earlier this month) to the Whistler Cup that celebrated its 30th edition earlier this year. Most of the participants in these events are professional athletes, or, like in the Whistler Cup, younger competitive athletes. In 1983, however, the first Sun Life Whistler Corporate Cup pitted teams of corporate employees against each other in hopes of winning prizes and bragging rights.

Over one weekend in January 1983, 25 teams competed for the overall Corporate Cup title.  Teams came from companies, firms, union locals or professional groups, and had to be made up of 10 full-time employees. Each team also had to have a minimum of three men and three women. In its first year, participants included teams from the Vancouver City Police Department, BC Hydro, and Canada Safeway.

These teams went head to head in six different events. The first was golf on the Whistler Golf Course, with holes ranging in length from 50 metres to 90 m, and made more difficult by the presence of snow. There was also a five-kilometre, cross-country ski race on the Lost Lake trails; a downhill race adjacent to the 1982 World Cup downhill run (the only World Cup race to have finished just above Whistler Village); a snowshoe obstacle course; an inner-tube pull named “Sliding Inflation”; and a snow sculpture competition called “Frozen Assets.”

At the end of the weekend, an awards ceremony recognized the team and individuals who performed the best. Prizes included skis, boots, stays at Delta hotels, and more, as well as prizes from the event sponsors Sun Life and Molson. The team from Envirocon came out ahead, due in part to their “dramatic” sculpture of a B.C. salmon, which put them ahead of the Vancouver Police, who had created a representation of a reclining pig. According to event organizer Laurie Vance, “We had 250 people who had a positive experience at Whistler,” and the first meeting for the next Corporate Cup was already planned. Vance also thanked the sponsors and the more than 100 volunteers who helped make the event a success.

The 1984 Corporate Cup was very similar to the first event. The makeup of teams and form of most of the events stayed the same, though the winning team was from Touche Ross, an accounting and consulting firm. The biggest change was probably the subject matter of Frozen Assets, which saw entries such as “1984 George Orwell” (a likeness of the author by BC Hydro), a mermaid, a giant telephone, and two different BC Places (BC Place was completed in 1983).

The team from Touche Ross successfully defended its title against 19 other teams in 1985. The Beauvallon Club, the only team to enter from Whistler, came second, while the team from ICBC finished third. Though the downhill race was replaced with a dual slalom race, most of the competition remained similar to the one held in 1983. The standout sculpture of 1985, according to the Whistler Question photographers, seems to have been “Reclining Nude in a Bathtub,” by Pacific Press.

By 1986, the organization of the Corporate Cup was taken over by June Paley. That year, the competition was held earlier (“too early” according to Paley), and had only 10 teams.  Nevertheless, the teams that competed enjoyed themselves, and the title again went to Touche Ross. There is no record of a Corporate Cup in 1987; instead, different events took its place in January, such as other races and the Finlandia Ice Festival, which featured ice carving rather than snow sculpting. The last Corporate Cup held in Whistler took place in 1986, leaving Touche Ross the undefeated winner.