By Sarah Drewery, Whistler Museum.
This year marked the 25th anniversary of Rob Boyd winning the World Cup downhill race in Whistler. The race, held on February 25, 1989, was a landmark in Canadian sporting history as Boyd was the first Canadian male to win a World Cup race on Canadian snow. This video of Boyd reaching the finish line conveys the excitement of the moment:
The shot of the huge crowd waiting to see Boyd’s podium moment also shows how stoked the people of Whistler were that day. The partying in the Village that night is still talked about 25 years later.
The path of World Cup racing in Whistler however, was not a smooth one. In 1975, Whistler was host to its first World Cup race, but racing was cancelled due to fog. In 1979, Whistler got another chance. The weather was perfect – cold temperatures and blue skies – but the course safety requirements were not met and organizers were forced to cancel.
Finally, in 1982, the first men’s World Cup Downhill went off without a hitch. The Canadian team shone, with five placing in the top fifteen. Steve Podborski’s second-place finish gave him the overall Downhill title for the year – the first time a non-European had won.
World Cup races in Whistler also gave rise to Whistler’s famous “Weasel Workers.”
The Weasels got their start when Whistler Mountain Ski Club founder Bob Parsons and his course crew of six prepped the first World Cup Downhill races in Whistler. They were nicknamed “those Weasel Workers” for their work shovelling and boot-packing the Weasel and Toilet Bowl. The name stuck and from that time, Whistler’s volunteer race workers have been known as the “Weasel Workers” (aka the “Weasels”). Over the years, the Weasels have worked on Olympic, World Championship, World Cup, NorAm and Canadian National Championship ski races in Whistler , Nakiska, Salt Lake, Bormio, Beaver Creek, Lake Louise, Sierra Nevada and elsewhere.