Our gold medal for Manuel Osborne-Paradis!

The Winter Olympics have drawn to a close here in Vancouver and will be recalled fondly for years to come.  We are in agreement with the many who say this event was characterized by friendliness and cross-cultural goodwill.  As we reflect back on the Games (and build our stamina back up to follow the Paralympic Games beginning March 12th!)  we are struck by the warm stories of civility.   The following letter appeared in the March 1st edition of  The Vancouver Sun newspaper. Written by Manuel Osborne-Paradis, a downhiller with Gold Medal hopes who finished successfully but farther down the leaderboard than he likely had expected, this note sums up the true spirit of the Olympic experience. Manuel has taken the time to publicly acknowledge and thank those many volunteers who have made the races possible. He wins our Olympic gold medal!!

1 Mar 2010  The Vancouver Sun  – Manuel Osborne-Paradis, a member of the Canadian Olympic alpine team

An athlete’s Olympic journey is made up of hard work, hours of training and sacrifice. Even with all our athletic preparation, there are many other individuals required to run a successful event. No matter how many days you spend in the gym, without the hard work and dedication of many volunteers our training would be for nothing. There are a select few that volunteer their two weeks of vacation to work harder and for longer hours than they do at their day job. These individuals, Weasel Workers, Sled Dogs and Olympic volunteers, made it possible for us to give our best on race day. For those who are not aware, the Weasel Workers and Sled Dogs are two groups of volunteers who give their time to prepare alpine race courses for North American Cup, World Cup and Olympic ski events. The Whistler-based volunteer group of men and women of varying ages and careers are named the Weasel Workers. The Lake Louise-based group of volunteers are called the Sled Dogs. These individuals give weeks of time each year to work in the cold and often through the night preparing race courses to be safe and of world-class calibre. Everyone knew holding a race in coastal Whistler was going to be tough, and yet that didn’t scare anybody. I had the opportunity to go to the Weasel tent at the bottom of Creekside a couple days before the races started and I met many volunteers from many countries all of whom wanted to be a part of this great Olympic event. I met people from Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, the U. S., Slovenia and the Czech Republic to name a few. Not only did this event bring the world together for athletic competition, it brought the people of the world together to work hard for a common goal. When the weather in Whistler turned nasty with snow, rain and fog, the volunteers were out in full force. All the while, we athletes were able to sleep soundly and get ready for our race, worry-free. The volunteers had two shifts; a night shift and a day shift. I marvelled at the pictures of the intense work that included shovelling the new snow off the race course right down to the original icy course that had already been prepared earlier by countless hours of injection. Injecting the course is necessary to run a world-class race, it includes using a water bar that sprays water into the snow to create ice and moves at a couple of metres per minute. Covering a course over a kilometre long is a feat in itself. I can’t imagine how fatigued the volunteers must be after two weeks of early mornings, late nights and countless hours in soggy clothing. If that isn’t the spirit of the Olympics what is? For that, I and many Olympians thank you. The Dave Murray Downhill and Franz’s Run were successful due to your hard work and dedication!


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