What does the Invictus Games have in store for us in Whistler?
At Whistler and Vancouver in 2025, Whistler’s adaptive sports program has been the key driver for touchdown games
Whistler will continue its legacy as a mountain host for major winter sporting events and expand its reputation as a disability-friendly sports destination when it hosts the first-ever hybrid Invictus Games in 2025.
Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, announcement the event would be held in Whistler and Vancouver during the closing ceremonies of the Invictus Games in The Hague, Netherlands on Friday, April 22. A flagship sporting event for wounded, injured and ill service members, the 2025 edition will be the inaugural Hybrid Summer-Winter Invictus Games, featuring adaptive winter sports like Alpine Skiing, Nordic Skiing, skeleton and wheelchair curling.
“Whistler shares a commitment to inclusion and diversity and our winter sports hosting roots run deep, so including winter sports in the Invictus Games for the first time is a great choice and it It’s exciting to imagine the Invictus Games on snow,” said Whistler. Mayor Jack Crompton at the April 26 council meeting.
The Games will be held in Whistler and Vancouver throughout February 2025.
In the works for years, the Whistler Adaptive Sports Program (WASP), with the support of Vail Resorts and Whistler Sport Legacies, was instrumental in securing the Games for the resort.
“It’s actually an idea we came up with in 2015. We met with the Invictus Foundation and pitched the idea of winter games,” explained WASP executive director Chelsey Walker, who added that he had taken a few years for a candidacy group to arise. the idea – in this case, the True Patriot Love Foundationa Toronto-based charity dedicated to supporting service members, veterans and their families.
The charity pioneered the concept of Hybrid Games and initially three Canadian cities were considered, before narrowing down to Whistler and Vancouver. In January, the offer was finalized and submitted to the Invictus Games Foundation, which approved the proposal last month.
Five hundred athletes from 20 nations are expected to compete, and in Whistler, Walker said organizers plan for up to 600 athletes, coaches and support staff to use local facilities, many of which are legacies from the 2010 Winter Olympics .
“I think it will be great to showcase the infrastructure that we have, thanks in large part to 2010,” said Christine Cogger of Whistler, who served as the medal ceremony producer at the 2016 Invictus Games in Orlando and at the 2017 Games in Toronto. “We have so many great facilities which, in my humble opinion, are underutilized, and I would love to see us attract a different variety of events, whether local or international. I think we have a lot of potential. »
Whistler is set to host skeleton, as well as Nordic skiing and alpine snow sports. Walker said the Games are an opportunity to increase the resort’s reputation as an adaptive sports destination.
“It’s huge because the reach of the Games is global,” she said. “One of the things we’re really looking to do is reach out to different nations and find people who might never have considered winter sports as an option. Maybe you come from a sand country and you don’t realize you can still Nordic ski on a mountain board. Or that you can do biathlon with an echolocation rifle.
“It’s great to reuse these [Olympic legacy] facilities and our programming to benefit another segment of the adaptive community, namely ill and injured service members and women.
In addition to its existing adaptive programs and facilities, Whistler has made major inroads into the military community through hosting alumni groups like Soldier On, a program that helps serving and retired Canadian Forces personnel suffering from or permanent or chronic injury to stay active, as well as Vail Resorts Military Epic Pass.
Walker believes the Games will only promote military tourism to the station.
“This is a big testament to Vail Resorts’ commitment to the military community,” she said. “The familiarity and support that is already there for the military community will certainly be tremendous.”
More importantly, like the Olympics before it, Invictus should help spur investment in infrastructure and adaptive programs.
“For us at Whistler Adaptive, we’re not just focused on accessible sport… It’s really about developing sport and creating more opportunities for people to participate in sport long-term,” Walker said. .
Billed as “the most innovative and accessible Games ever”, Invictus will also be co-hosted by Whistler and the Vancouver First Nations, Lil’wat, Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh, “so you’ll see a great Indigenous participation in these Games,” added Walker.
The Invictus Games in The Hague held from April 16-22 were originally scheduled for 2020 but were postponed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Twenty-eight Team Canada athletes participated.
For more information, visit invictusgamesfoundation.org.