Lake Louise at the Olympics (and a Gold Medal!)Posted: February 20, 2010
The involvement of Lake Louise in the 2010 Winter Olympic Games began with the arrival of the Olympic Torch in January, stopping briefly on its way back to B.C. and eventually Vancouver. Former Lake Louise patroller Peter Spear wrote about how Lake Louise had been involved in previous attempts to get the Olympics in Alberta, and now, working for the Vancouver games, he continues with this article, revealing how much Lake Louise is involved in 2010.
Lake Louise at the Olympics and a Gold Medal
On Friday, February 12, 2010, the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games will officially begin. For the next 16 days, some 2700 athletes and their officials representing more than 80 countries will join 25,000 volunteers plus staff, participants and contractors who will work for VANOC. More than 10,000 media representatives will record the action to an international audience estimated at three billion viewers. Seven sports representing 15 disciplines will create 86 medal events at nine competition venues.
Lake Louise volunteers will play a significant role at Whistler Creekside, the site of the 10 alpine events. Lake Louise for more than 20 years has been the site of the Winterstart World Cup events in downhill and super giant slalom, hosting five races over a two week period in late November and early December each year.
The Canadian Ski Patrol System (CSPS) Lake Louise members have served an important role since the Calgary 1988 Olympic Winter Games.
Patrollers Brian Weightman, Rob Shugg, Rick Murdock and Ken Brown were the organizers and coordinators of over 250 CSPS members across Canada who worked all the outdoor venues during the Games, plus long track speed skating. Brian Honeywell, Ken Lukawy and Howard Anderson were involved in 1988 and again this year at Creekside.
Half of the 44 patroller ‘inside the nets” at Creekside are CSPS Lake Louise. Over the decades, various other Louise members developed the “Racer Down Protocol” which is a system that ensures the safety of competitors, officials and hill volunteers when an accident occurs during training and races. This protocol was originally put into print in 1978 by Bruce Hamstead, a Louise Patroller. It was fine- tuned by Bonny Mckendrick, Angie Alexander (Meyers) and Dr. Lois Torfasson and became so successful, that it is now the international standard for World Cup races and the Olympics. See www.cspscalgary.ca for Calgary zone and www.skipatrol.ca for more information about this national first aid group with over 5,000 active members in Canada.
The Medical team also includes EMT personnel and doctors, several of whom will be at Whistler Creekside. The Medical Team does simulations of accidents and the ensuing heli-evacs. The best time for “racer down” to evacuation is about 12 minutes. In November 2008, about 40 doctors from VANOC came to Lake Louise to experience Medical Team “reality’ and left impressed with the caliber of the CSPS .In all, there will be 200 CSPS members from across Canada working in various medical roles for VANOC. Tom Rich, an emergency room doctor at Foothills Hospital in Calgary, has done many World Cups and will also be at Creekside. Joan Maguire, Regional Medical Manager, Whistler, has also played a major role at Lake Louise for the Medical Team on World Cup events.
Race officials from the World Cup events at Lake Louise are also involved at Whistler Creekside. Their decades of experience will assist in the organization to make the alpine events run smoothly. They include Darrell MacLauchlan (Chief of Competition, Men’s), Craig Smith (Chief of Course, Ladies Speed), Mike Kirker (Chief of Course, Men’s Speed), and Jim Brewington (Assistant Chief of Competition, Ladies). They are part of Alberta Alpine. See www.albertaalpine.ca. Bruce Hamstead has represented the Lake Louise Race Organizing Committee (ROC) at all FIS World Cup committee meetings. He is also the contact/voting member for all Lake Louise ROC at the Club 5+ meetings.
Course crew members at Louise are nicknamed Sled Dogs and they do the course work of assisting with A and B net installation, course grooming and other race-related grunt work. Their moniker goes back again to the 1988 games. With high winds and temperatures at Nakiska, the course crew had to ‘work like dogs” to get the course in shape for the events. This morphed into “sled dogs” after Siberian Huskies for their persistence and dedication to work. Their website is www.thesleddogblog.blogspot.com for more interesting historical notes. For many years, they have worked side by side with the Whistler Weasel Workers who come annually from Whistler to help with World Cups. See www.weaselworkers.com for their history. Now, things are reversed, and the Sled Dogs have traveled to Whistler to work with and party at Weasel House at Creekside.
Maelle Ricker made Canadian Olympic history on Tuesday, February 17, 2010, as she was the first Canadian female athlete to win a gold medal at an Olympic games in Canada. Her father Karl was a volunteer ski patroller at Whistler for years as Maelle and her brother Jorle learned their snow skills. Quickly, both the kids emerged as premier snowboarders. Jorle almost made the Canadian Olympic half- pipe team in the past, and Maelle continued to excel at the international level. Karl has been a Whistler Weasel Worker for decades, and has been recognized at Lake Louise by the ROC as “the best course worker” several years ago. His hard work continued as he was preparing the downhill course at Whistler when Maelle won her gold at Cypress. Congratulations to Maelle, Karl, Nancy, and Jorle.
Of the 350 volunteers on course at Creekside, 150 of them are Lake Louise trained and tested. Indeed it is truly “Lake Louise at the Olympics”. All of these Medical Team, Course Crew and Race Officials are volunteers, and are taking their holiday. time to work at the Games. Then, many of they will go back again in March to do the Paralympics.
Dedication and service of the highest order. Congratulations to all of you!
Go Canada Go!!!
Peter Spear February, 2010