Tag Archives: Molson World Cup

Remembering Whistler’s Downhill World Cups

This year marks a few important anniversaries for ski racing on Whistler Mountain: it has been 40 years since the ski hill almost hosted the World Cup in 1979 before it was cancelled due to weather and safety concerns, and it is 30 years since Rob Boyd became the first Canadian male to win a World Cup downhill event on Canadian soil.

Local boy Rob Boyd atop the podium, 25 February 1989. Photo: Greg Griffith/WMAS.

Whistler Mountain also held other successful World Cup events in the 1980s and ’90s starting with a World Cup downhill in 1982.

By the last week of February 1982, Whistler had undergone some major changes since a World Cup was last attempted in 1979.  Blackcomb Mountain opened for skiing in 1980, giving Whistler Mountain nearby competition, and the first phase of Whistler Village construction was, for the most part, wrapped up.

The course for this World Cup downhill was changed as well.  Rather than follow the traditional route that used what is now known as Dave Murray Downhill ending in Creekside, the 1982 course ended in Whistler Village.

The Molson World Downhill came to Whistler, bringing thousands of spectators along with it.  Whistler Question Collection, 1982.

The new 3,810-metre course was expected to result in a winning time in the two-minutes-and-15-seconds range.  Racers began near the top of the Black and Orange Chairs and then headed down through the Double Trouble rollers, the Pony Trail Flats, Tokum Corner, the Elevator Shaft, across Crabapple Creek and to the finish line in view of the spectators waiting in the village.

There was more to Whistler’s 1982 World Cup than raceday on Saturday.  The opening ceremonies began the festivities on Wednesday, February 24 and included a parade of nations complete with flags and local dignitaries.  The following evening was Western Night.  The scheduled events included a display of logger sports such as axe-throwing and chainsaw demonstrations and a square-dancing demonstration for the national teams.  The Lil’wat Nation also hosted an outdoor salmon barbecue.  The Friday evening before the race was a more casual affair with a torchlight ski parade and fireworks display.

A torchlight parade makes its way down Whistler Mountain.  Whistler Question Collection, 1982.

According to The Vancouver Sun, prior to Saturday the weather was “the most-discussed element of the whole affair.”  Days of fog and fresh snow leading up to the race meant great conditions for those skiing on the rest of Whistler Mountain but these conditions weren’t great for training runs, causing delays and cancelled practices.  Luckily, on Saturday and weather cooperated and, for the first time on Whistler, the World Cup downhill could go ahead.

Going into the race, the two racers to watch were thought to be Steve Podborski of the Crazy Canucks and Austrian Harti Weirather, the 1981 World Cup downhill champion.  The race was, however, won by Swiss skier Peter Mueller, a two-time World Cup downhill champion (the 1982 season ended with a tie for the title between Mueller and Podborski).

At the awards ceremony after the race on Saturday, the cheers for Mueller were reported to be just as loud as those for the Crazy Canucks.  Mueller appeared to enjoy his second trip to Whistler, having first come to the valley one a five-week camping tour of Western Canada in the 1970s.  When speaking of the area’s hospitality, he told reporters that, “The people here are so friendly.  They come up to me and say, ‘Hi Pete,’ even if they don’t know me.  I would really like to come back here.”

Whistler’s 1982 World Cup was not an unqualified success to everyone.  According to Doug Sack in Whistler Magazine some teams “loathed the new course.”  It ended too slowly, passing over the flats of Lower Olympic, and one Austrian was even heard to say “I should have brought my cross-country skis with me.”

Whistler Mountain hosted more World Cup downhills after 1982, using the Dave Murray Downhill course.  If you’re interested in learning more about Whistler’s World Cups and what it takes to organize and pull off such an event, join us at the Whistler Museum for our next Speaker Series on Thursday, March 29 with guests Rob Boyd and Alex Kleinman.

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This Week in Photos: March 15

Not all weeks in the Whistler Question Collection have similar coverage.  Some weeks include only a handful of photos while others have hundreds.  For the most part, larger events mean more photos.

In March 1984 Whistler hosted its second successful World Cup Downhill.  This week in 1984 includes over 600 photographs –  though we’ve only included five in this post, all can be viewed here.

1980

89-year old Myrtle Philip cuts her birthday cake at her party.

The site of the Mountain Inn in the town centre showing the forms waiting for the work to start again.

MAN, DOG & MOUNTAIN – Patroller Bruce Watt with his rescue dog Radar at the top of Whistler.

1981

A year later – Myrtle Philip just before her 90th birthday.

More Sunshine shots – the Whistler Village businesses enjoy the outdoor crowds on yet another sunny weekend. Tapley’s…

… Stoney’s…

… and Russell’s.

1982

Kids are put through the hoops at Blackcomb Mountain ‘Kids Kamp’.

Ministry of Transport employee surveys traffic flow March 13 to help determine parking needs in Whistler.

Winners’ ribbons light up (L to R) Michael Hofmann, Laura Armstrong and Aaron Gross at the cake-decorating contest, one of the many carnival festivities at Myrtle Philip School Friday, March 12.

No, it’s not a tug-of-war – students at Myrtle Philip School team up to take John Crewman for a real ride during the dog-sled event during the winter carnival.

Another sunny weekend on the patio of Stoney’s.

Taking a break, and enjoying the spring air. Umberto Menghi still has a smile despite having one leg shackled in a cast. Umberto broke his leg while skiing.

1983

Megan Armstrong, Jim Parson and Sue Boyd, winners in Whistler Challenge Series. The question is who keeps the attractive wooden trophy?

Vancouver’s hottest R&B band. The Lincolns, will be rockin’ it up at Stumps lounge in the Delta Mountain Inn until March 19.

Every wonder why they’re called SANDwiches? Cliff Jennings chose a nice sunny lunch hour Friday, March 11 to try out the new sweeper attachment on this golf course vehicle. Several munchers were kind of choked up.

The new Heritage Canada sign by Charlie Doyle.

Who knew porcupine chew television lines?

Behind the counter and waiting to serve you at the Rainbow Grocer are new owners (L to R) Dale Trudgeon, Lynn Trudgeon and Earl Grey (missing and on meat run is Cal Schacter). The store, located at the Gulf Service Station, is open from 10 am until 7 pm each day and until 0 pm on Fridays and Saturdays. Step in for fresh meats and seafoods and ask them about freezer packs.

1984

Several thousand people travelled from the gondola base to Whistler Village Sunday to see downhill winners Bill Johnson (US), Helmut Hoeflehner (Austria) and Pirmin Zurbriggen (Switzerland) receive their soapstone sculptured trophies.

Todd Brooker, along with the rest of the Canadian downhill team, visited Myrtle Philip School last Wednesday, and in between signing autographs Brooker gave a short speech.

A playful Expo Ernie floated high and mighty above all the excitement in the Village Square beer garden Thursday. After a magnificent Voodoo jet fly-past, Expo Ernie and hundreds of others paraded down to Mountain Square for the official opening ceremonies of the Molson World Downhill.

Standing room only was no exaggeration both Friday and Saturday night in the festival tent. Doug & The Slugs put on their best side for Winterfest – both nights sold out, and estimates are that 2,000 danced their way through the tent Saturday.

Just a few plates of antipasto were served for the 116 guests at Saturday’s Grand Ball in Myrtle Philip School. Diners paid $125 each for the five-course dinner, with proceeds going to help defray Winterfest Society expenses.

This Week In Photos: March 8

One of the best part of the Whistler Question Collection is that it shows different sides of Whistler as a developing resort, including skiing, contests, parties, school events, construction and scenes of everyday life.

1979

Toni Sailer runs the Molson World Cup Downhill course on Tuesday.

Toni Sailer and Nancy Greene-Raine on the World Cup Downhill course.

A Beetle is carted out of Creekside.

One of the Tantalus Creations seamstresses at work on a vest, part of a line of custom ski wear.

1980

Construction continues in Whistler Village despite the snow on the ground.

The new Public Service building has its finishing touches added and new cells installed, currently unoccupied.

Myrtle Philip pays a visit to a class at Myrtle Philip School, sharing photos and tales of her early days in the valley.

‘Downhill’ Bill Gregory leads a group of cross country skiers down the water town hill in the Fischer Cup.

Myrtle Philip teachers & parents prepare the climbing apparatus for the PE workshop on March 8.

1981

The lineup at the bottom of Whistler Mountain looks like it could use a little more snow, or any snow at all.

It’s not the usual slalom course you see in Whistler, but that didn’t stop this group of kayakers.

The crowd gets out onto the dance floor at Club 10.

Mayor Pat Carleton (centre) congratulates Michel Segur (left) and Jean-Jacques Aaron on the opening of their new club.

How many people can you fit in one hot tub? Looks like we’re going to find out.

1982

Guide Mike Jackobson heads the pack as the powder skiers make tracks on an open slope near Bralorne.

All that remained of the lower portion of the Blackcomb skiers bridge that collapsed Saturday, March 6 injuring two.

Action! Fitness instructor Sue Worden pedals her heart out for Action BC testing Saturday, March 6 while Kevin Ponnock, fitness consultant, records pulse rate. The government-sponsored program includes flexibility training and a diet analysis so that participants can asses their fitness level.

Don Armour (seated) and Peter Zandon give the new WRA computer system a workout. The computer is a major step towards co-ordinating reservations throughout Whistler.

1983

A new sound wafted through the air of Whistler Village Saturday, March 5 thanks to Otto Baumann and his Alp horn. The horns were originally designed to call cattle home or signal nearby neighbours. Baumann, 25, a native of Lucern Switzerland, made this horn himself. It measures 12 feet in length.

At it again! Blackcomb and Whistler Mountain staff squared off for the second round (actually there’s been far more than two rounds guzzled in this competition) of their boat races.

Doc Fingers and the Gortex Blues Band kept the crowd on their feet at the Canadian Telemark Team Benefit, Sunday March 6 at Bullets Cabaret. (L-R) Robin Ferrier, Doc Fingers and Jack Levin belt it out for the full house. Not shown is Ferrier’s crutch – supporting his ankle, broken March 4 scant days before the telemark racing season really gets underway.

Foot in the Door titillates the telemarkers at the Canadian Telemark Team Benefit held at Bullets Cabaret Sunday. (L-R) Mark Schnaidt, Craig Barker, Charlie Doyle and Rocco Bonito helped the team net $500 toward sending the team to races in Colorado.

M. Robert Gourdin, North American sales rep for Moet et Chandon and Hennessy Cognac, topped off this $24,000 tower of Baccaret crystal glasses with a few bottles of bubbly during a special presentation at Delta Mountain Inn March 3. And how to open a bottle of champagne on such a special occasion? Why, with a Napoleonic sabre, of course.

1984

A typewriter graveyard? No, these are just a small part of the many tons of equipment, from pencils to lasers, being used for Molson World Downhill coordination.

It was a tough choice for judges at Saturday’s air band contest. The contest, held at Stumps in conjunction with the Volvo Ski Show, featured four bands. The Energy Pals, a duo, eventually won and took home two pairs of Blizzard skis. In second place were The Superbs followed by the five-member Culture Club.

This Week in Photos: March 1

1979

The new Whistler Village model on display at the Village display suite adjacent to Municipal Hall.

The Molson World Cup course workers enjoy a little R&R courtesy of Molson’s after a hard day’s work on the course.

The line waiting to get up Whistler Mountain in Creekside.

An aerial view of Flute Basin.

Slim Fougberg was honoured at a school board event in Pemberton. The evening included speeches, dinner and skits.

1980

University school break results in record mid-week crowds.

Developer Peter Gregory and Architect Archambault show plans for the 316 room Mountain Inn (today the Hilton).

Not a Corral! This new fenced area outside L’Après is just the extension of the patio area in readiness for the spring season.

Oops! Warm wet weather caused the snow to slide off this Telemark roof and flatten the wagon parked below.

Carved lions guard the hotel entrance of the newly completed Whistler Creek Lodge.

1981

Local Brownies and Guides gathered at Myrtle Philip School.

The first skiers come off the Whistler Village Chair on February 28. You might be wondering where all the snow got to.

Dr. Rob Burgess, Dr. Christine Rodgers, Howie Goldsmid and Bill Hooson at the hospital meeting.

The Tapley’s crowd enjoy a few brews in the sun on Sunday, March 1. Photo by Greg D’Amico.

1982

On the job, the LTI truck proves its worth at Whistler West fire.

The Molson World Downhill came to Whistler, bringing thousands of spectators to the resort along with it.

Gr… Grrrgreat gorillas, Batman! Some people went just plain ape over the World Cup at Whistler.

Sold Out! Hungry ski fans eager to meet the competitors in the World Downhill race polished off the sauerkraut and sausages in record time Thursday. (L-R) Louise Zinsli, Jenny Busdon, Evelyn Cullen and Trudy Gruetzke of the Whistler Chamber of Commerce display the leftovers.

Thousands upon thousands of spectators jam Whistler Village Square for the World Cup presentations.

A torchlight parade makes its way down Whistler Mountain.

Tony Fernandez, R.6 Herron and Danno Five-O rock the socks off a packed house at Myrtle Philip School Saturday, February 27.

Doug Bennett and fellow slugs gave the crowd what they paid for and more during two performances at the Longhorn.

1983

The last girders are in place on the new Culliton Creek bridge. Now it can stand on its own concrete feet. Highways crews now must put on decking, pave approaches and cut the ribbon before the span opens to traffic this spring. Though you can’t tell from this photo, this bridge is famously orange.

Stre-e-e-tch in all directions in this lycra and cotton cross-country ski suit modelled by Shelley Nichol at a fashion show at Sundial Restaurant Thursday. The display was put on for the WRA by Virginiga Meachin of Whistler Cross-Country Ski Centre and featured fashions from Carlsberg’s, Inge’s, The Downhill Shop, Whistler Village Sports, Village Traditions, Brick Shirt House and Whistler Tops.

Brownies from Barbados offer food and facts about their country at Myrtle Philip School Monday, February 28.

“Hold’er newt!” Cress Walker and Paul Clark inch their just-built Dash 34 sailboat out of the warehouse in preparation for launch day Monday, February 28. It was a tight squeeze but it came out just as it went in – barely.

1985

The Baxter Group’s Gondola Village has sprouted up like mushrooms at the gondola base during the past four months. Cranes continue to put the finishing touches to 245 units included in the project.

Export “A” Cup racers milled around the time board Wednesday to find out how they placed in the downhill but almost everyone was surprised when unheralded Steven Lee from Australia emerged as the victor.

Jack Demidoff points to the spot where he and his hoe smashed through the ice on Nita Lake.

Skateboarder Harry Hovatha of Victoria does a 360 aboard his Austrian-made Swingbo, a skateboard on skis that sells for about $400 and was recently introduced to the Canadian market. Hovatha was with a group of skateboarders who visited Whistler last week on a promotional tour. But they couldn’t use Whistler Mountain lifts because of provincial lift regulations.