After four months of construction, the new Gemini Freestyle Centre in Whistler, B.C. has been completed just in time for the winter season and is now open for training. Located on Blackcomb’s Sorcerer run, just above the mid station gondola, the new national training and event site includes a world-class mogul run and airbag facility, along with a judges stand, athlete warm-up space and storage area. Despite some delays in early summer due to Covid, project managers Mick Gannon, Marie-Claire Gravel and Jennifer Dunn pushed on and succeeded in completing the build just in time.
The project has been supported from the outset by the Whistler Blackcomb Foundation, who awarded a $300,000 grant in 2015, which had to be matched. After three gala fundraisers and a grassroots donation campaign, the volunteer group also secured a naming rights sponsorship from Gemini, which green lighted the project.
Gemini is a New York based cryptocurrency exchange and custodian, founded by Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, the famous “Bitcoin Billionaires”, who are both passionate skiers, Olympic rowers and frequent visitors to Whistler. Sadly, with the borders closed, the Winklevoss brothers are not able to be here in person to open the centre, but plans to welcome them for a delayed Grand Opening are in the works once travel restrictions are lifted.
Cameron Winklevoss, President of Gemini says: "Whether you are an athlete in training or an entrepreneur launching a new business, having an excellent training ground to fail fast and continue improving are key to growth. We are incredibly excited about the completion of the Gemini Freestyle Centre and helping to provide facilities that will train and develop future athletes and leaders. My brother and I look forward to visiting Whistler in the near future.”
Momentum Camps’ Julia Smart, who has helped coordinate the project since its inception says, “Our team is thrilled to see the completion of this facility after many years of planning and fundraising by our dedicated group of volunteers. Huge thanks to Doug MacFarland at Whistler Blackcomb and Mei Madden at the Whistler Blackcomb Foundation for their patient and ongoing support over the years, and of course to Gemini for ensuring we could go ahead and build this summer. We also wish to thank Freestyle BC and B2ten who provided some additional funding, as well as the many supporters of our galas and the friends and family donors who have also been recognized at the centre.”
Freestyle Whistler club kids are happy to finally have a ‘home’ on the mountain. Chris Muir, Executive Director of Freestyle Whistler says: “Our club has long needed a home similar to what the alpine club enjoys on Whistler and the Gemini Freestyle Centre will provide a central base for our kids right below the terrain park and half pipe. We look forward to being able to showcase our local freestyle talent to the general public and welcoming more skiers into the club.”
He adds, “The facility will also mean that our high performance mogul skiers have an excellent training venue right here at home, rather than having to travel to other mountains, which is especially important this year. The airbag will ensure our up and coming young skiers can train their acrobatic maneuvers safely before taking them to snow.”
The club will now have a turnkey event site so it will be much easier to host competitions and they plan to stage the BC Freestyle Championships this spring.
Freestyle skiing is Canada’s most successful winter snow sport at the Olympic level and has produced many medalists over multiple Olympics. Freestyle Canada’s CEO Peter Judge feels the centre will have a large impact in helping grow and support the sport. “The Gemini Freestyle Centre will be a great asset to our sport by helping Canada continue in its quest to produce elite level athletes and ultimately, Olympic medalists. Having a world class venue such as this on the west coast will not only further our high performance aspirations, but also provide a cost effective, high quality venue for our youth development programmes and is key to our long term success. Certainly this facility will continue to ensure Whistler remains a centre for sport excellence in the years to come.”