Tag Archives: Whistler Mountain Ski Club

Volunteers of 2010: The Weasel Workers

This past month, the Whistler Museum opened a temporary exhibit on the Sea to Sky volunteers of the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games.  The exhibit will run through March as Whistler continues to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Paralympic Games.  One of the groups included in this exhibit is a group that formed well before the Games ever came to Whistler.

The Weasel Workers formed in the 1970s when Bob Parsons bad his crew of six prepped the course for the first World Cup Downhill races in Whistler.  Most of the early volunteers were parents of Whistler Mountain Ski Club members, but membership grew over the years as Weasels continued to work on the courses for large races on Whistler and began sending volunteers to help build courses for World Cups, World Championships, and Winter Olympics on other mountains.  When the Games were awarded to Whistler and Vancouver in 2003, the Weasel Workers began recruiting and building their team well in advance of the alpine events held on Whistler Mountain.

Weasels on the course with no sign of the sun. Photo: Lance the Ski Patroller

During the 2010 Games, the number of Weasel Workers swelled to about 1,500 volunteers.  Volunteers came from across Canada and other nations to join a core group of 400 to 500 volunteers from Vancouver and the Sea to Sky area.  About 300 volunteers worked specifically for the Paralympics, and a couple hundred Weasel Workers volunteered to work for both the Olympics and Paralympics.  Weasel volunteers began their work for the Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANOC) on Whistler Mountain as early as mid-November 2008 and continued to clean the courses well after the Games had left town.

Even during the Games, the Weasels continued to be a family affair.  Bunny Hume, who began volunteering the with Weasels with her husband Dick in the early 1980s when their grandsons began ski racing, volunteered alongside multiple family members.  She handed out and collected race bibs, her son Rick was the Chief of Course for the women’s course, and her grandsons Jeff and Scott worked on the dye crew.  Rick’s wife Lynne also worked as a Weasel during the Paralympics.

Weasel Workers working on the downhill course for the Olympics. Photo: Lance the Ski Patroller

Some of the Weasel Workers who began volunteering as ski club parents even had children competing in the Games.  Long-time Weasel Andrée Janyk, who could often be found working on a course with a smile, saw two of her children, Britt and Mike, race in the Olympics in their hometown.

Karl Ricker, also a long-time dedicated Weasel Worker, was on the mountain trying to prevent people from crossing where the winch-cats were working when he received the news that Maëlle Ricker, his daughter, had won a gold medal in snowboard-cross on Cypress Mountain and become the first Canadian woman to claim an Olympic gold on home soil.  He went down to Vancouver to attend her medal ceremony, but was back at work on the course early the next morning.

Despite rain, wet snow, and warm weather over the first few days of the Games, and the postponement of three races, the Weasel Workers created and maintained courses for the men’s, women’s, and Paralympic alpine races that were seen around the world in 2010, and those who came to Whistler to work with the Weasels became just as much a part of the team as the long-time volunteers.  Patrick Maloney, then the Weasel president, told The Whistler Question that, “Anybody that’s on that track is a Weasel Worker.”  This sentiment was echoed by Weasel Worker Colin Pitt-Taylor, who claimed that, “as soon as you started working on an alpine course, you became a Weasel Worker, whether you like it or not.”

This Week In Photos: November 8

Halloween may be over but there are still a few more costumes this week, mostly courtesy of the National Men’s Downhill Team Benefit held at Dusty’s.

1978

Brian “Sherlock Holmes” checks out Ron’s plastic torso at the Halloween dance.

Hold it! Members of the Volunteer Ski Patrol lower a “patient” from the Olive Chair during an evacuation practice.

Jerry Blan and Hugh Smythe from Fortress Mountain Resorts present the Blackcomb development to the public.

1979

A study in roof structures – the new Public Service Building awaits its roof.

Geopac’s 20-ton weight crashes down to compact the ground for the foundations of the Mountain Inn – the new 6-storey concrete hotel to be built at the Town Centre…

… while this week the top layer of gravel is placed on the new parking lot adjacent to the Public Service Building to be used by day skiers in the winter.

The Whistler Skiers Chapel at its new location beside the Whistler Mountain Ski Club cabin.

A crane sets the new steel in place for the base terminal of the Olive Chair while the excavation for the staging area proceeds.

The interior of the newly-remodelled L’Apres Dining Room showing the raised dining area and the tiffany lamps.

1980

Misguided truck – the accident occurred on Tuesday when Hydro crews were fixing some downed lines.

At the National Team Benefit Dave Murray draws the door prize while a rather hoarse Paul Burrows gets ready to continue the auction.

TIMBER! This is the end of the tree that fell on several cars outside the Keg on Saturday evening.

T.W.U. members picket the Whistler Village site on Tuesday.

1981

A new bridge and culvert is in place by November 10 after last week’s flooding.

Artist Roy Tomlinson demonstrates his technique on a litho stone at the showing at Inge Neilsen’s.

Lexi Ross and Craig Tomlinson look over the selection of skis at the ski swap.

Ross Morben, the new manager of Beau’s, lends a helping hand to the new renovations which include a live entertainment lounge.

1982

It was a mad, mad, mad crowd at the Whistler Mountain Ski Club annual ski swap Sunday, November 7. Bargain hunters were not disappointed with the tremendous selection of ski equipment at real recession prices.

It was a quieter scene at the Burrows garage sale held on Matterhorn Drive.

Butcher John MacLeod carves a few slices for the new meat and seafood market at The Grocery Store.

Charlie Doyle (right) wailed it out with Foot in the Door Saturday, November 6 – a packed Stumps lounge like it’s never been packed before. Accompanying on guitar is Mark Schnaidt.

Davey Blaylock tries his hand at running the show, with a little help from Mayor Pat Carleton. Witnessing the change in who holds the gavel are (L to R) Mark Jennings, Jake Humphrey and Justin Adams. The Kindergarten class visited the Mayor in his chambers, which he has occupied for seven years before deciding to step down on November 20.

1984

Grocery Store staff spent most of Saturday mopping up water that covered the floor. The damage was caused by a burst pipe in the Hearthstone Lodge. Both the Grocery Store and the liquor store were closed for more than half the day. Water damage was also sustained by some suites in the Hearthstone.

Jack Bright and Toulouse dressed in their finest for last Wednesday’s National Men’s Downhill Team Benefit at Dusty’s. The event raised about $7,500 for the team.

The real Whistler came out of the closet, so to speak, Halloween night to help support the National Ski Team Benefit. Mr. & Mrs. Halfenhalf walked away from Dusty’s with the top prize for best costume.

The Whistler Mountain Ski Club held its annual ski swap Saturday and Sunday as hundreds of local and Vancouver residents flocked to Myrtle Philip School gym to take advantage of the many bargains available.

At precisely 11 am on Sunday, November 11 a moment of silence followed by a brief ceremony will take place in front of the Public Safety Building. Among the group gathered there to remember the 114,000 Canadian men and women who died in a battle this century will be Rolly Horsey, a retired Major in the Canadian infantry who fought in World War II. Mr. Horsey, a resident of Whistler for 17 years with his wife Anne, started with Canadian Scottish in Victoria in 1939 shortly after war was declared and headed overseas to Great Britain on a three-ship convoy in 1941. For his commitment toward fighting against the Axis powers he received the DSO in an all-Canadian investiture at Buckingham Palace with Lt. Co. Lord Tweedsmuir. He returned to Europe in 1967 with his wife and visited a Canadian cemetery and was struck by the futility and sadness of all the young men who gave their life for their country during World War II. Mr. Horsey will be on hand Sunday to remember not only all those who died but also his own involvement fighting in Europe to defeat Adolf Hitler and the Axis powers.

Whistler’s Weasel Workers

Behind every major race held on Whistler Mountain is a pack of Weasels.  The volunteer organization began in the 1970s when Bob Parsons and a crew of six prepped the course for the first World Cup Downhill races in Whistler.

The term “weasel” was bestowed upon the crew due to their work on the Weasel, a section of Dave Murray Downhill that was too steep for the older snow cats to make it up.  Instead, race workers would flatten the section by treading up and down the Weasel on foot.  Though the organization was formally registered as the Coast Alpine Event Club in 1984, the name is rarely used.

Weasel Workers working on the downhill course for the Olympics. Photo courtesy of 2010 Olympic Ski Patroller Lance.

In the early years of the Weasel Workers, most of the volunteers were parents of members of the Whistler Mountain Ski Club but as the races they worked on grew so too did membership in the organization.  Since the 1970s, as well as working on World Cups and other races in Whistler, the Weasels have sent volunteers to help build courses for World Cup races in Lake Louise, Alberta, and Beaver Creek, Colorado, World Championships in Europe and the Winter Olympics in Calgary and Salt Lake City.

Weasels on the course with no sign of the sun. Photo courtesy of 2010 Olympic Ski Patroller Lance.

When the Winter Olympics were awarded to Whistler and Vancouver in 2003 the Weasel Workers began recruiting and building their team in preparation of the alpine events to be held on Whistler Mountain.  Working as a Weasel has always required dedication and the willingness to work hard despite the sometimes challenging conditions Whistler winters can create; hosting the Olympics in Whistler was no different, though perhaps on a slightly more tiring scale.  Weasel Workers were routinely called to be ready and up the mountain for 3 am and the long days of shoveling sometimes lasted until 10 pm after which race workers would often walk over to the Weasel House that offered beer, wine and Weasel Wear.  As a 1993 article in the Whistler Answer stated “How do you spot a Weasel Worker?  They’re the ones on race day who look like they could use a good sleep.”

Weasel Workers continue to work on races in Whistler and send volunteers to events around the world.  Most recently a group of Weasels went to Korea in advance of the PyeongChang 2018 Olympics next winter.  Three long-serving members of the Weasels joined us this past Wednesday as part of our Speaker Series.

Dennis Waddingham, one of the original Weasel Workers under Bob Parsons, and Owen Carney provided an interesting history of the Weasels (aided as well by Weasels in the audience) and Colin Pitt-Taylor’s photos and stories from their trip to PyeongChang earlier in March provided a preview of some of the venues and events to come in 2018.  Thanks to all three, as well as Pat Taylor for operating the photos and keeping it all moving, and to everyone who joined us for a great evening – we’ll be announcing more details of our next Speaker Series in April soon!

Rob Boyd is God

February 25, 1989 is a date that any long-time Whistlerite should remember, because on that day Rob Boyd became the first Canadian male to win a World Cup Downhill event on Canadian soil.

It remains not only one of the most memorable days in our community’s history, but for Canadian ski fans as a whole. Not too long ago, we even had some visitors here to the Whistler Museum who recalled watching the race live on a black-and-white television in the lodge at Luggy Lump Ski Hill in St. John’s, Newfoundland. If that does not warm your heart with old-fashioned Canadian nostalgia, nothing will.

Canadian National Ski Team. Boyd is far right. Photo: Greg Griffith/WMAS.

Canadian National Ski Team. Boyd is far right. WMAS, Greg Griffith Photo.

It was a triumphant moment not only for the historic achievement, but also because Canadian supporters were still reeling from the gruesome and nearly fatal crash that Boyd’s teammate Brian Stemmle had suffered at Kitzbuhel six weeks earlier. By this point Stemmle was back on the long road to recovery and everyone was keen for a reason to celebrate.

If you watch the video clip of the CBC’s coverage of the race (available on YouTube), right after he crosses the finish line Boyd waves the cameraman over to get up close so that he can proudly announce “For you, Stemmle!” There’s also a pretty glorious cutaway to the raucous celebrations going on at Dusty’s.

Here in Whistler it was a massive community event. Rob had moved to Whistler as a teenager in 1982, so he had huge local support. The medal ceremony drew one of the largest crowds ever assembled in Whistler up to that point and the party kept going for days.

That evening a fundraiser was held at the Conference Center for the national ski team, featuring performances by Colin James and Smokey Robinson. Apparently the $125 event had not been selling well, but Boyd’s dramatic victory put everyone in the celebratory mood and all 1,800 tickets were eventually spoken for.

It was a legendary party that included, among other things, the golden boy being gifted a pair of Dwight Yoakam’s cowboy boots that Boyd proceeded to brandish on the dance floor.

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

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

This wasn’t Rob’s first World Cup gold medal, having won twice already at Val Gardena, Italy, but winning on home soil was certainly a career highlight.

Rob still lives in Whistler and remains one of our town’s biggest heroes. Just a few weeks ago there was a huge party at Dusty’s Bar to celebrate Rob’s 50th birthday, a stone’s throw from the finish line where he won gold 27 years earlier.

When he’s not celebrating birthdays you can find Rob coaching for the Whistler Mountain Ski Club. The club’s Creekside headquarters are easy enough to find, address: 2028 Rob Boyd Way.

Some go as far as to say that Rob Boyd is God: