Wilhelmsen enters B.C. hall of fame Whistler Mountain founder seriously ill By Chris Woodall Whistler Mountain founder Franz Wilhelmsen has his place in the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame after being honoured with the WAC Bennett Award at the induction ceremony, Tuesday, April 28. Wilhelmsen's son Philip accepted the prestigious prize on behalf of his father, who was too ill to attend the night honouring sports heroes at the Hotel Vancouver. The WAC Bennett Award goes to individuals who wouldn't be recognized for athletic prowess or being a "builder," but who nonetheless have made a major contribution to sport in this province. "Candidates must exemplify good character and dedication, and provide inspiration to present and future generations," says Bob Graham, hall of fame curator. Franz Wilhelmsen no doubt fits that criteria. As the first president of Garibaldi Lifts Ltd. his vision and leadership started what we now know as Whistler. The award is not automatically given every year. Wilhelmsen topped a list of four nominees and now joins previous award winners Rick Hansen (1987), Terry Fox (1980), photographer Bill Cunningham (1983) and sports patriarch Frank Griffiths Sr. (1997). Wilhelmsen's photo will be hung in the Hall of Champions at the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame & Museum. He will receive a certificate recognizing his achievements, signed by Premier Glen Clark. The Hall, which has been going strong since 1966, saw the total number of inductees rise to 200 members with Tuesday's ceremony. Joining Wilhelmsen in receiving accolades were "builders" Annis Stukus and Mrs. Billie Mitchell; in the team category the 1994 Jesperson & MacDonald sailing crew; and athletes Jack Bionda, Barrie Burnham, Willie Fleming, Shirley Ann Topley and Chris Wilson. Jim Coleman and Ted Reynolds were inducted in the media category. Pioneer entrants were the late Joseph Patrick and the late Quene Yip.

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