Ski club donates gym equipment to Mt. Currie 

Transformation into high performance training centre being planned

By Andrew Mitchell

One of Whistler’s Olympic legacies is having a benefit for the Mt. Currie community as well, thanks to an arrangement between the Whistler Mountain Ski Club and PacifcSport Sea to Sky.

Last Friday, the WMSC received a shipment of new training equipment from Life Fitness, and donated their old equipment to the Xit’olacw Community School in Mt. Currie. The rest of the new equipment should be delivered in June following a renovation to the ski club’s fitness room, at which point the rest of the equipment will be sent to Mt. Currie.

According to Mark Gabriel, a teacher at XCS, the equipment will be put to good use.

“It’s always been our plan to have a semi-modern gym in the school to help our athletes,” he said. “Right now the closest gym to us is here in Whistler.”

The donated equipment will be stored until the school can build a weight and fitness room adjoining the school. The goal of the room will be general fitness for soccer teams, basketball teams, paddlers, and the growing number of Mt. Currie youth participating in ski and snowboard programs.

“As a community our focus is to start generating better athletes, for sure, but (the equipment) is also there for the athletes that don’t have bigger goals but want to get the most out of themselves,” said Garbriel.

The equipment will also be open to the rest of the Mount Currie community outside of school hours, as part of the Lil’wat Nation’s general health and wellness program.

For the Whistler Mountain Ski Club, the new equipment is part of an agreement with PacificSport Sea to Sky that will see WMSC fitness facility turned into a high performance workout centre for their own athletes, as well as athletes from the community between now and the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.

Pacific Sport is contributing all the equipment for the project, as well as the estimated $75,000 in funding that will be required to renovate and increase the size of the fitness centre.

Life Fitness, an international supplier of high-end gym equipment, offered the equipment at cost, about $50,000, saving Pacifc Sport about $25,000. All told the project will cost about $150,000.

According to Cindy Thomson, a sport performance director and strength and conditioning coach for Pacific Sport, the agreement has not been finalized at this point but the goal is the new facility will serve several roles.

One of the main goals will be to provide a place for carded athletes in the Sea to Sky area to train, as well as visiting provincial and national team athletes. The equipment is more adjustable and sport-specific than equipment found in other gyms, and there will be no competition to use that equipment with the public.

“Meadow Park is a great facility, but it’s at capacity,” said Thomson. “Because it is a public facility it was always a challenge to train there. They’ve been great partners with Pacific Sport, but it’s not cool for a team of 15 athletes to walk into Meadow Park with a coach and train. It taxes the capacity considerably.”

Local athletes and visiting teams will be able to train and rehabilitate at a new Pacific Sport facility, using their own trainers as well as other Pacific Sport experts such as physiotherapists and strength and conditioning coaches.

The new facility, once approved, would also be open to WMSC athletes, providing them with sport-specific equipment and training opportunities not available in the past.

“With this equipment athletes will be able to actually mimic limb pulling and joint action, and isolate sports conditions on equipment that can be more aligned to the sports the athletes are training for,” said Thomson.

The fitness facility will be a temporary one for Pacific Sport until the new athletes’ centre is completed as part of the 2010 athletes’ village. However, the new Life Fitness equipment will remain with the WMSC club as a long-term legacy for alpine racing in the community.

According to WMSC program director Nigel Cooper, the club was proud to be able to donate the equipment to Mt. Currie, given that it was originally donated to the club.

“The equipment was originally donated to us by Wayne Holm, who was a chair of the Whistler Cup for five years and a former Grey Cup winner at one point,” he said. “It’s all equipment that was in his home and we were pretty fortunate to get it, we’ve made good use of it, and we’re happy that we’re able to pass it along to Mt. Currie.”

Improving their own gym facility is a priority, says Cooper. “Right now the gym is underused, and our athletes at the grass roots don’t get as much exposure to elite level athletes training as we would like,” he said.

The number of spinning bikes is one area he says the club will benefit, as more athletes use them to warm up, cool down, build endurance, and rehabilitate injuries.

If an agreement is reached, the WMSC and Pacific Sport could begin upgrading the space as early as April, with the goal of completing the renovation by June.

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