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Canadian Luge Association wants to thank community

Lauscher’s blog doesn’t speak for everyone

Canadian luge officials want Whistler, and their partners, to know that they are grateful for all their support.

The message was delivered this week in an e-mailed letter responding to a controversial blog by luger Regan Lauscher complaining about some negative experiences she had in Whistler.

"I had heard that some people who support us were upset and were thinking that because of all this media that came out of the blog that we didn't appreciate their support," said Tim Farstad, executive director of the Canadian Luge Association.

"I wanted to make sure that all our partners that we work with all the time realized that we (do appreciate them) and I just wanted to say thank-you."

The 28-year-old Lauscher, who began sliding in 1999 and has competed at two Olympics, blogged for CTV that she is less afraid of Whistler's black bears than she is of wearing her team colours or letting people know she is from Alberta.

"We were dumbfounded by the lecture we got at Meadow Park Sports Centre for being too aggressive with the gym equipment and bringing too many people into the facility," she wrote last week.

The recreation centre is a community facility, which has welcomed athletes to train there for free as they head towards the Games. The centre has received some equipment in return.

The blog went viral, getting international press coverage.

Even the head of the Vancouver Organizing Committee, John Furlong, said he wanted to talk to the athlete.

Lauscher stands by her words, though she is careful to point out that the majority of Whistlerites are supportive of the Games and the athletes.

But once the words were out the damage was done.

"At first I felt very badly for my staff," said Steven Hills, vice president of business operations for Canadian Sport Centre Pacific, which delivers sport performance programs to help athletes and coaches win medals for Canada.

"My staff in Whistler have bent over backwards to make sure that all the athletes, including Regan, are clear on what the protocol is for access to (Meadow Park Sports Centre) and we spent 20 hours in the last week on damage control.

"We don't see it the way Regan did. We have kids writing to lugers and everywhere we go with the athletes in town there seems to be good support."

Hills was saddened to learn of Lauscher's experience, though he admits there is a small but vocal anti-Olympic group in Whistler.

"I know there are some disgruntled Whistlerites..... and the vocal minority does seem to get printed more," said Hills.

"This is the first time it has come to my attention that an athlete felt that some of the ill will of what is happening in the community is being taken out on an athlete. I was really surprised."

Hills hopes this is just a "wrinkle" and that those in the community who support the Games and the athletes have a chance to enjoy the celebration around the event.

On Saturday Ben Thomas of VIP Mountain Holidays organized a welcome for the Canadian bobsledders, now in town to practice at the Whistler Sliding Centre.

"They very much appreciated it," said Thomas.

"Every single athlete I spoke to, they all said they absolutely don't feel neglected and they feel they get great support from Whistler and they are excited to be back.

"The overriding issue in Whistler is that most people in Whistler don't know these athletes are here.

"That is the problem."