Nineteen Eighty-Four. No, I’m not referring to George Orwell’s seminal work of fiction, nor am I referring to the album released by Van Halen with songs like “Jump”. 1984 was a significant year in the development of Whistler as a year-round resort destination.
In 1982, Whistler Mountain successfully hosted a World Cup Downhill race after several early attempts were thwarted due to bad weather and poor snow conditions. Two years later, in March 1984, the second successfully held World Cup race would draw thousands to Whistler Village. It was one of the most successful promotions to date and would help solidify Whistler as a host for future World Cup events throughout the 1980s and 1990s.
Whistler and the nascent Blackcomb were four years into their competition to attract skiers to the resort and this was reflected in the advertising for both mountains.
The Whistler Golf Course and Club designed by Arnold Palmer opened to much fanfare in 1983. It had a successful first year in operation, but would the second year draw the same number of visitors to Whistler?
Since the completion of Whistler Village, it had been a struggle to attract visitors to Whistler outside of the ski season. A key component was on hold due to the economics of the early 1980s with high interest rates and lending institutions not willing to broker terms. In 1984, however, the construction of the Sports and Convention Centre was back underway.
Whistler and the Sea to Sky corridor had been used in many ski and outdoor adventure films, but had started to catch the eye of Hollywood and Japanese TV productions. This led to a Japanese TV company filming a yogurt commercial here starring Sean Connery.
“They need a strong, healthy, clean image, and 007 fit the part,” said production coordinator Martin Yokata.
The sport of mountain biking had grown to include officially sponsored events and would begin to attract more events to Whistler that would draw competitors from across Canada and the United States, As has been detailed in other articles, the Great Earth, Snow and Water race was in its heyday and a number of other festivals and events attempted to draw visitors to Whistler in the spring, summer and fall.
Over the next few weeks, stay tuned for more stories detailing the importance of 1984 and the impact it had on determining Whistler as a year-round resort destination.
I spent the eighties in Whistler and they were some of the best years of my life!