Longtime local takes trip down Olympic memory lane 

Garry Watson knows exactly what it feels like as the countdown to the Olympic decision creeps closer and closer.

He remembers waiting in the Vancouver Hotel over thirty years ago with bated breath as the International Olympic Committee handed down their decision on who would host the 1976 Olympic Games.

And of course he remembers what it feels like to taste the bitter sting of disappointment when Whistler lost the bid.

That depressing memory isn’t going to keep him away from Village Square on the morning of July 2, however, when the host of the 2010 Olympic Games is announced from Prague.

Then again he has complete confidence in Whistler’s chances this time around.

"I think we really now truly believe in Whistler," he said.

It’s not that he didn’t have faith in the past. But with an insider’s knowledge of former bids, Watson knows how good the bid is for 2010.

"I think it’s a much more realistic belief of success right now because. of course, what is already here in Whistler," he said.

"And, my gosh, this has been incredibly well thought out. The research they’ve done, the kind of people they’ve had involved, the energy they put into it is just enormous."

Watson has been there from day one. He knows more than most how Whistler’s development into a world-class ski resort is intrinsically linked to the Olympic dream.

"The vision of the Olympics … was a great catalyst to proving what could happen in Whistler," said Watson.

The seeds of a plan began to germinate 43 years ago, galvanized by the success of the Squaw Valley Olympics in California in 1960.

A helicopter tour of the Garibaldi area at that time would have shown nothing more than a fishing cabin and a railway line winding along the valley floor.

But a handful of people saw something more. They saw the pristine snow and the huge vertical. Most of all they saw the potential for something grand.

Whistler Mountain, which was on the maps of the day as London Mountain, was earmarked above all others in the area as the best spot to build their dream.

Chief among these visionaries was Sidney Dawes, the founder and first president of the Canadian Olympic Association. He believed this site could measure up to the world’s top athletes competing for the most coveted prize in sport – an Olympic medal.

"Sure it took a fair amount of imagination," grinned Watson who was one those early dreamers involved in the community planning committee of the bid.


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