After a week of 11th hour and 59th minute meetings, consideration of several budgets and clarifications of a few misunderstandings, all the pieces are finally in place to make the World Cup an annual event in Whistler each December. Or so it would seem. Details of the loan agreement were still being finalized as we went to press, but the last hurdle appeared to be overcome when the Whistler Resort Association agreed to guarantee the last $500,000 of the $3 million loan needed for snowmaking and other infrastructure. It wasn’t easy for any of the three members of the W5 group — the municipality, the resort association or Whistler Mountain Ski Corp. — to set aside funds to guarantee the loan. The municipal and WRA budgets were set before they were asked to guarantee the loan. Whistler Mountain Ski Corp. has probably had to revise its budget a few times already this year, first to replace a lift, then to buy the bankrupt Taluswood project and now to guarantee part of the loan. In the end, the fiscal arguments against allocating money to guarantee the loan were outweighed by the potential benefits to the resort and the community the World Cup holds. This was probably a one-time-only opportunity to secure a long-term commitment to Whistler to host the races. Getting the FIS, Alpine Canada, all five members of the W5 group and the bank to agree on the deal is comparable to a once-in-a-millennium astrological alignment. Given the pressures the FIS is under to grant men’s downhill races to other countries and the demand for December race dates, the stars may never be so well lined up again. The decisions taken to guarantee the loan reflect the spirit, faith and commitment that have made Whistler successful. Certainly there is a risk, but there is also an opportunity to create something new, something beyond the conventional. The timing is right, too, for Whistler to take such a step.


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