Tag Archives: Toni Sailer Summer Ski Camp

Early Freestyle on Whistler

When the first Toni Sailer Summer Ski Camp was held on Whistler Mountain during the summer of 1966, the camp focused mainly on racing and was motivated partly by the need for competitive skiers to stay in shape and improve their technique between competition seasons.  This focus changed as more recreational skiers began participating in the camps with an interest in improving their own skills under the guidance of skiers such as Toni Sailer, Nancy Greene and Alan White.  It wasn’t until the summer of 1973, however, that freestyle was included in the Ski Camp programming and the legendary Wayne Wong began coaching on Whistler, reflecting a change in the sport of skiing.

The staff of the 1969 Summer Ski Camp, including another freestyle skiing legend, Dag Aabye. Whistler Mountain Ski Corporation Collection.

At the time, freestyle skiing was still a relatively young sport.  The first recorded freestyle skiing competitions in the United States were not held until the mid-1960s and it was not until 1969 that the first instructional program began at Waterville Valley in New Hampshire.  In 1971 Waterville Valley hosted the first Professional Freestyle Skiing Competition, drawing together competitive skiers from across North America.  These skiers included Wayne Wong, George Askevold and Floyd Wilkie, all of whom decided to stay at Waterville Valley as coaches of the first Freestyle Ski Team.

We don’t know when exactly the first freestyle skiing competition was held on Whistler Mountain but by the spring of 1971 there was enough demand that Garibaldi Lifts Ltd. hosted the first annual Aerial Ski Acrobatic Championship and Hot Shot Contest.  In 1973 freestyle skiing became part of the Toni Sailer Summer Ski Camp programming under the direction of Wong, Askevold and Wilkie, providing more formal training for skiers interested in the growing sport and “teaching youngsters to ski the ‘Wong Way’.”

Three well-known hot dog skiers show off their style in 1973 at the Tony Sailer Summer Ski Camp. Left to right: George Askevold, Wayne Wong and Floyd Wilkie.  Whistler Mountain Ski Corporation Collection.

In the spring of 1974, Whistler Mountain expanded its freestyle offerings with a spring Freestyle Skiing Camp for “youngsters who can ski parallel, but who want to master some of the popular new maneuvers of freestyle under competent coaching.”  According to Garibaldi’s Whistler News, the “newest tricks” such as skiing sideways, backwards or upside down were becoming more common on Whistler, but were also risky, especially without training or instruction.  They decided to provide an opportunity to explore techniques and tricks under the tutelage of Michel Daigle, Tetsuo Fuji, and Bob Dufour.

Michel Daigle demonstrates his synchronized skills during a competition on Whistler Mountain. Whistler Mountain Ski Corporation Collection.

While freestyle skiing was becoming increasingly popular through the 1970s, it was not officially recognized as a sport by the FIS until 1979, when international regulations and certifications were introduced.  The next year saw the first FIS Freestyle Skiing World Cup with event in moguls, aerials, and “acroski,” also known as ski ballet.  To win the overall title, skiers had to compete in all three disciplines.

In 1986 the first FIS Freestyle World Ski Championships were held in Tignes, France, and then demonstration events were held at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary.  Over the next two decades, more and more freestyle skiing events joined the Olympic line up, beginning with moguls in 1992, aerials in 1994, ski cross in 2010 and, most recently, halfpipe and slopestyle in 2014.  Unfortunately, ski ballet, though part of competitions and tours in the 1970s and 1980s, did not continue to grow with freestyle skiing in the same way and has not been recognized as an official freestyle discipline since 2000.

Today freestyle skiing looks a little different than it did in the early competition of the 1970s, but it can often be seen on Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains and around the world.

Visiting a Different Whistler

There is a lot to do in Whistler in the summer, even with the restrictions currently in place across British Columbia.  You can go up the mountains to hike and ride the Peak 2 Peak, hike throughout the valley, relax at a lake, or even visit Whistler’s Cultural Connector (which includes the Whistler Museum).  What about, however, if you had visited Whistler during the summer of 1980?

Thanks to Whistler News, a supplement published by The Whistler Question, we can get an idea of what summer visitors to Whistler could have expected forty years ago.

The Whistler Village at the base of Whistler Mountain as visitors would have found it in the summer of 1980. Whistler Question Collection, 1980.

The first step to visiting Whistler was getting here.  Though it’s relatively easy today to find your way to Whistler, in 1980 there were no directional signs in Vancouver pointing the way and Whistler News encouraged drivers to obtain a road map and head north on Highway 99.  The drive up included a 12km section through the Cheakamus Canyon that was set to be realigned and improved by 1981 but was still somewhat treacherous.  This was still an easier route than those from the north.  The route to Whistler through Bralorne was suitable only for 4-wheel drive vehicles and the Duffy Lake Road would not be paved until 1992.

Visitors had a choice of lodgings, both in and near to Whistler.  While some of these lodgings, such as the Highland Lodge and Whistler Creek Lodge, are still standing, others such as the Alpine Lodge (a lodge and cabins located in Garibaldi, which the provincial government declared unsafe in 1980) and the White Gold Inn (more commonly known as the Ski Boot Motel) have since been demolished.  Those looking to camp had quite a few options, including a BC Hydro campground at Daisy Lake and a forestry camp at the Cheakamus and Callaghan Rivers.  Supposedly, the summer of 1980 was also going to see the construction of new camping facilities as part of Lost Lake.

Lost Lake south shore showing where a beach and picnic ground will be built. Whistler Question Collection, 1980.

Whistler also offered a variety of dining options, from Chinese cuisine at the Alta Lake Inn Dining Room to the Keg at Adventures West.  Those looking to provide their own meals, however, were encouraged to plan ahead, as the only grocery shopping in the area was at the Gulf and Husky Mini-Marts.

Visitors could still do many of the things that have brought people to Whistler in recent summers.  They could go hiking around the valley (Lost Lake was recommended as having the “spectacular sight” of the ski jump) and spend time around and on Whistler’s lakes, where windsurfing was becoming increasingly popular.  Those more interested in snow could attend the 15th year of the Toni Sailer Ski Camp, perfecting their skiing under the direction of Toni Sailer, Nancy Greene, Wayne Wong and Bob Dufour.

The group at the Sailer Fischer Ski Camp party catered by the Keg. (L to R) Wayne Wong, Wayne Booth, Schultz, Nancy Greene, Toni Sailer, Rookie, Alan White. Whistler Question Collection, 1980.

The summer of 1980 was also a season of huge changes in the area and would have offered visitors many opportunities to view construction in the valley.  There was not yet a Whistler Village as we know it today.  In the Town Centre the first buildings of Phase I were expected to open that season and construction of Phase II buildings was underway.  Late in the summer Whistler Mountain installed its first lifts that ran from what would become the Whistler Village.  At the same time Blackcomb Mountain was building its first lifts, as well as on-mountain restaurants and utility buildings.

Blackcomb’s President and General Manager Hugh Smythe shows Whistler Mayor Pat Carleton the new ski runs from the base of Lift 2 during a recent tour by the mayor of the Blackcomb facilities. Whistler Question Collection, 1980.

With all this construction, changing businesses and development, it’s no surprise that summer visitors to the museum will often tell us that Whistler is almost unrecognizable as the same place they visited in the 1970s or 1980s.

This Week In Photos: August 2

1978

Pictures taken last week of the unsightly mess left by the receding waters of Alpha Lake.

Mud, water and more mud threaten to engulf this worker at the bottom of the new sewer line. Casano Construction ran into difficulty last week when an old creek hidden underground was unleashed.

The heavy equipment preparing the site for the Whistler Vale Condominium site. Approval for this 36-unit development was given on Monday night, July 31.

Stella and Murray Coates’ party over the weekend produced a fine turnout of locals in the balmy weather.

1979

The largest ballroom in town! – the completed A building of the Town Centre parking structure.

The group at the Sailer Fischer Ski Camp party catered by the Keg. (L to R) Wayne Wong, Wayne Booth, Schultz, Nancy Greene, Toni Sailer, Rookie, Alan White.

Some of the headlines recently appearing in the Vancouver newspapers about Whistler.

Gulf Oil truck pumps gas into the Husky tanks during the gas shortage due to Trimac dispute.

Vicki Vogler and Laura McGuffin with the new Whistler hiking book they produced – now on sale at the Information Centre for 75 cents.

Four excited kids take part in the 3-legged race at the Summer Recreation sports day. P. Hocking photo.

1980

Mountain Inn – as it’s been for two months. New construction should start soon.

Blacktop was laid along the Blackcomb Mountain access road from top to bottom. Reports are that a skateboard contest may be held there.

Pacific Blasting is currently at work carving out the rock in the Bayshores subdivision. Whoever buys this lot will have a magnificent view of the valley all year long.

1981

Alta Lake Beach is crowded with sun-seekers on Sunday, August 2.

Don Wildfong, project manager of Pemberton airport, takes a moment off work to pose in front of sign that welcomes recreational fliers to Pemberton.

The Ham/Murphy residence in Alpine Meadows that was damaged by fire on July 30.

Axes fly at Squamish Logger Days.

Sails flapping, windsurfers in the first heat of the men’s Triangle races skim away from the starting line during the BC Windsurfing Championships.

Ms. Sue Christopher, the new teacher at Myrtle Philip School who will be teaching the primary grades, replacing Mrs. Alexia Turner. Ms. Christopher previously taught for 5 years at Signal Hill Elementary in Pemberton.

Elisa Wilson, Anton Deduluc, Melanie Busdon and Samantha O’Keefe test out the new playground equipment at Myrtle Philip School. Built by Industrial Arts students at Howe Sound Secondary School with lumber donated by Garibaldi Building Supplies, this structure is just the first phase of the facilities. The Whistler Parent/Teacher Group has raised the funds which will raise the equipment.

ON YOUR MARKS… GET SET… and the 90 participants in the Whistler Rotary Fun Run were off. Men and women, boys and girls of all ages took part in the race on a sunny August 2nd, Sunday. The Rotary Club hopes to make it an annual event.

1982

They’re off and running at the Rotary Fun Run which started at Myrtle Philip School Saturday, July 31. Runners registered for a 2.5km or 7.5km run around the Lost Lake area.

Willie Whistler strikes up the band to celebrate their third-place ribbon received in the Squamish Logger’s Sports Parade held Sunday, August 1.

These three answered the question of the week: Jenny Busdon, Housewife, Whistler Cay resident; Larry Gunn, Whistler Courier, Alpine Meadows resident; Dave Kirk, Alta Vista resident.

They were swingin’ in the rain throughout the slow-pitch tourney, but Chris Streatham, with his dry sense of humour, came up with this catchy solution.

Andrew Stoner, owner of Whistler Windsurfing, now has to take a definite step up in the world to jump the gap between his docks on Alta Lake. The two docks, one floating and one stationary, were at equal levels one month ago.

Dave Phillips and Doug Hoy go through one of their routines during the Great West Ski Show in Village Square Saturday, July 31st. Phillips executes a somersault – one of many freestyle manoeuvres he displayed for appreciative audiences.

A grader sets to work levelling roads in the Alpine Meadows subdivision, where paving operations will begin shortly.

1984

Steve Martin? No, this wild and crazy guy is parks worker Ted Pryce-Jones who was out last week painting arrows and yellow lines on Valley Trail curves and bends. The new lines and arrows are designed to give cyclists and pedestrians warning and keep users to one side.

Swimmer Shelley Warne was one of 36 swimmers who participated in the Sixth Annual Molson’s Fun Swim on Alta Lake Sunday. Warne swam from Wayside Park to Alta Lake Inn and back under the watchful eye of Marilyn Moore, who dusted off her bathtub derby craft for the occasion. Fun swim organizers report the event went off without a hitch. Other competitors in the swim included Sharon Daly, Joan Parnell, Mike McCroden, Leslie Bruse, Molly Boyd, Shawn Hughes and Daryl Stone. Men’s and women’s winners were John Puddicombe and Shirley Fay, who completed the three-mile course in times of just over a half-hour.

George Kelly of Seattle was the 10,000th golfer to tee off at the Whistler Golf Course this year. Kelly, a food service distributor, played his round July 24. Bookings on the course are at 100 per cent most weekends and 80 per cent weekdays. Numbers are up considerably from last year when the 10,000th player came through in the second week of September. The only problem the course is having now is that players are having a hard time getting tee times.

Members from the Alta Lake Community Club officially opened one of its five benches last Wednesday that it recently donated to the municipality. The club donated $1000 and parks planner Tom Barratt used the money to build the benches located along the Valley Trail. Trudy Gruetzke cut the ribbon opening the benches with other ALCC members, Heather Gamache, Nancy Treiber, Louise Zinsli, Evelyn Cullen, Marg Fox and Suzanne Wilson.

This Week In Photos: July 26

This week, like last week, we’ve got photos from every year of the Question Collection!  From windsurfing to dentists, Doug and the Slugs to puppet shows, these photos represent what was going on in Whistler (and Pemberton) this week, many years ago.

1979

Windsurfers and sunbathers enjoy the Alta Vista dock.

Dr. Ann Crowley, the new Pemberton Dentist.

The chow line at the Ski Camp barbecue.

Doug and the Slugs perform at the Ski Camp barbecue.

The roads around Whistler Vale got paved this week.

Terry Minger shows the Resort Association chart to the Whistler Rotary Club.

1980

The Husky gas station in Creekside sees steady business no matter the season.

Arnold Palmer, former PGA Champion, explains some of the ideas intended for the course at Whistler, with diagram posted behind him.

The Resort Centre doesn’t look like much but it will eventually have an Olympic-size ice rink. Something to look forward to during the late hot weather.

1981

Flag footballers take advantage of a sunny Sunday to show off some of their moves.

Former Mayor Wendell Watson and Mayor Shirley Henry cut the Pemberton Village 25th Anniversary Cake.

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s super skier!

Rain Coast Puppet Theatre group captivates an audience of young and old in Whistler Village Square on July 24.

A sunny summer day and lush new landscaping – Mayor Pat Carleton and his wife Kay take advantage of Whistler at its finest to enjoy a stroll through Town Centre.

One innovative sunbather found a unique way to beat the heat of Saturday, July 25 at the Rotary Wharf on Alta Lake.

Bob Daly, recently of Surrey, has been appointed the new principal for Myrtle Philip Elementary School. Daly has 12 years teaching experience as well as experience as the head of a science department. In addition to his administrative functions, he will be teaching Grades 6 and 7 at MPES.

1982

One of the first customers makes an inquiry at the reception desk of the newly opened Delta Mountain Inn last Friday.

Mayor Pat Carleton pushing lawn mower.

“Surviving A Personal Financial Crisis” – a handbook.

Competitors take aim during the First Annual International Dart Tournament held at the Longhorn July 23 – 25.

1983

Terry Booth, an electrician with Whistler Mountain (left), graduated at the top of his class at Pacific Vocational Institute and is presented a certificate by Peter Alder, vice president and general manager of Whistler Mountain. Booth studied electrical work at PVI in four two-month sessions over two and a half years. He is one of eight EMSC employees being sponsored for an apprenticeship program.

Spanking new span over Culliton Creek is due to open by July 29 according to Vern Dancy, structural co-ordinator for Goodbrand Construction.

Al Davis heads out for a sail on what he described as a “classic day” for windsurfing on Alta Lake. The weekend sun gave way to rain by Monday.

Diane Eby, of Inge’s Hole in the Wall Gallery, has a wide selection of limited edition prints, reprints and posters for sale. The present collection, which includes pieces from $18 to $600 include works of Markgraf, Bateman and Lansdowne. The works on display will change at least once a month, Eby said.

After the lesson on infant nutrition during the Mother-Infant Program, this group of mums headed over to the Sundial Restaurant to see to their own nutrition. (top row, l – r) Public Health Nurse Marilyn McIvor, Sheila Peters and Colin, Annie Sanderson and Patrick, Lezlie Lock and Jessica, Sandy Epplett and Patricia; (bottom row, l – r) Merrilyn Hoffmann and Christina and Karen Martin and Robyn.

1984

Master of Ceremonies Tom Thomson talks to Glenn Carlsen, the winner of Saturday’s 57 km Molson Lite Whistler Triathlon organized by the Alta Lake Sports Club.

For thirsty triathletes competing in 27+ weather Saturday, watermelons in Village Square were a needed source of water for dehydrated competitors.

Yes, the water was a bit cool Sunday morning for the first leg of the Junior Triathlon in Lost Lake.

If the hydro’s going in to the new municipal hall, can the staff by far behind? Construction is advancing quickly as the staff at Function Junction tidy their desks in anticipation of the move back to the village scheduled for mid August.