Like many non-profit organizations, the Whistler Mountain Ski Club engages in various activities throughout the year that help reduce the cost for participation in the sport and/or enhance the experience for its members. In doing so, a variety of volunteer positions have been identified of which individuals are needed to assist in organizing and/or performing specific duties that help make each activity a success. In most cases, volunteer tasks involve a few hours, a full day and in certain leadership roles can take several days. However it is the philosophy of the club that many hands make light work and that there are many different ways in which individuals can contribute to our overall success.
In general, the club takes on 4 major types of activities each year. They are:
- Ski Swap and Turkey Sale — October
- Fundraising Gala / Auction — December
- Club Social’s and Ski Racer Café — 3-5 times throughout the season
- Club sanctioned Ski Races at Whistler — 3-5 times throughout the season
The ski races are perhaps the biggest in terms of numbers required to successful host the event. As indicated in the chart below, over 80 volunteers are required to safely put on a race. There are a number of different ways in which individuals can assist and enjoy the thrill of the competition first hand. It is the expectation that each parent who has a child enrolled in a program with the club would be able to help out a minimum of 8 days assisting with the set up and organization of races, 2 days assisting with the ski swap and fundraising gala and at least one afternoon/evening assisting with a social. Many activities have leadership roles which individuals who have experience and assist in the coordination and direction of other volunteer’s duties.
WMSC has a volunteer coordinator. This is a parent who records and coordinates all the volunteers and does their best to make these assignments appropriate for all involved. If you have any questions concerning volunteering please contact the volunteer coordinator at email@example.com .
Ski Swap and Turkey Sale
The Ski Swap and Turkey Sale are annual events the club hosts over the Thanksgiving weekend at the base of Blackcomb and at the club cabin. Under the management of the Swap Director, the event involves the receiving of skis, snowboards and boots from public and retailers for sale. The club manages the inventory, pricing and sale of items for a percentage of the final sale price. The club also assists with buyer’s selection and fitting of items. Upwards of 60 volunteers are required each of the 4 days to work in shifts to staff a variety of positions from set-up / tear down, receiving and tagging merchandise, to sales and support roles.
Fundraising Gala / Auction
At the beginning of each season, the club hosts an annual fundraising Gala and Auction where guest enjoy a single evening of food, entertainment as well as silent and live auctions. Under the management of the Gala / Auction Director auction items are solicited from members and local businesses for display and bidding the night of the event. There are a number of ways volunteers can assist in the pre-event set up to the night of the event including: receiving and pricing of auction items, reservations and ticket sales, guest check in and collection of bid amounts during check-out. Typically 10 volunteers are needed to communicate and manage pre-event planning with an additional 20 helpers the night of the event.
Club Social’s and Ski Racer Café
Each season the club host a number of informal socials at the club where members can get together for snacks and drinks and enjoy an après ski atmosphere with other members and alumni. The club’s social director plans and coordinates appetizers and refreshments with the help of 6-8 volunteers in the preparation, decoration and tidy up afterwards.
Club sanctioned Ski Races at Whistler - How Races Happen
WMSC usually hosts three races during a typical season: a race in December, the Parsons Super G at the end of January and the Whistler Cup on the Easter weekend. The organization of these races takes the committed effort of all parents. For those new to ski racing, it can be quite overwhelming and intimidating. However, rest assured that it does not take a long time to understand ski race organization. Taking officials courses can help tremendously and as such all new parents are expected to take at least their Level 1 course.
Unlike in J4 races which are run by Whistler/Blackcomb, all the races hosted by ski clubs across BC are put on by parent volunteers. Thus if you have a child who is racing, you will be expected to help out in some capacity. If you have two children racing in the same race, your volunteer obligations for that race increase accordingly. This is a fun way to meet other parents and to watch your child perform while keeping busy with your own same-age peers. A number of volunteer positions [both on and off the hill] are available that best suit your interests, abilities. The volunteer coordinator will help match your talents and availability with the club expectations and in so doing will track your volunteer time to ensure that all members are contributing equitably.
The weekend before the race gets under way is usually a safety setup weekend. Parents are required to help put up the safety nets. We organize into crews of typically four to six lead by a more experienced parent. Unless otherwise announced we meet at Garbo Hut at nine o'clock on set up days. At the same time some volunteers work inside, getting the race office in order, preparing start lists and programs, sorting prizes and arranging for a parent/volunteer social.
Volunteers on [and sometimes before] race day are organized by crews or groups. Sign up takes place several weeks before the race and will be announced through the WMSC eNews. The following gives you some idea of the volunteer opportunities. However if you aren't sure of the best position to take, please contact the WMSC alpine chair at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Under the direction of the chief of course, the course crew is responsible for the preparation of the course and its maintenance throughout the race. This requires being responsible for the course marking, including direction marking and marking pole positions as well as providing the course setter with assistance and all the necessary equipment in order to be productive. The course crews also takes care of the preparation of the start and finish areas and make sure that the course is well prepared and maintained while the race is underway. Some members of the course crew are positioned in key places along the course and use rakes and shovels to ensure that the course is kept in a good condition. Other members of the course crew are positioned at the top of the course and used to run equipment down to places where it may be required during the race. Yet other members of the course crew may act as slippers in which they side-slip the course to minimize the ruts and berms.
A gate judge is responsible for judging the passage of each competitor through the gates and deciding whether the passage is correct. Gate judges must have completed their Level 1 Official’s course so they are aware of the rules concerning correct passage. Gate judges are assigned a certain number of gates to watch by the chief of gates. They stand to the side of the course and watch each competitor pass through their designated gates. If a competitor does not have the correct passage through the gates the gate judge marks this down on a gate judge card.
The start area is overseen by the start referee [who must be a Level 2 Official]. Volunteer positions at the start include the starter, assistant starter(s), and two manual timers. The starter wears a headset and is in communication with timing. The race is started on the signal from the starter. The assistant starter organizes the racers according to their start order. The manual timers work in pairs using a stopwatch and a recording sheet to record a manual time at which each racer starts. This forms a backup time for all the electronic timing system. The assistant starter and manual timers are appropriate volunteer positions for inexperienced volunteers.
The finish area is overseen by the finish referee. The finish crew consists of the finish spotter, two manual timers, scoreboard, and bib collector. The finish spotter has a headset and informs timing of the bib number of races as they cross the finish line. The manual timers, as with start manual timers, work in pairs using a stopwatch and a recording sheet to record a manual time at which each racer finishes. The volunteer on scoreboard has either a headset connected to timing or can visually see an electronic scoreboard on which times are displayed. He or she manually records these times on the scoreboard so the racers can quickly see their times. The bib collector collects the bibs from racers after their final race. The finish spotter, two manual timers, scoreboard, and bib collector are appropriate volunteer positions for inexperienced volunteers.
Under the supervision of the Chief of Timing, the timing crew is responsible for the electronic timing systems of the race. There are usually two independent electronic timing systems. Each requires two pairs of wire to be in place from the start to the finish to carry both the timing signal and communications between the areas; the start wand, finish beam, and a timing unit to receive and process the start and finish signals. Regardless of how the system is set up, the principles of timing are the same. The starter gives the start signal. When the racer opens the start wand, the circuit is broken and the start signal is sent to the timing machine. When the racer breaks the light beam at the finish the circuit is again broken and the finish signal is sent to the machine which calculates the elapsed time of the racer and prints it out. Members of the timing crew work together as a team to ensure the systems are in place and functioning correctly. Any volunteers with electrical know how would be welcomed as part of this team.
Race Office [off- hill position]
Overseen by the Chief of Administration, also known as the Race Secretary, the Race Office takes care of the considerable amount of paperwork that a race inevitably requires. This includes sending the race notice, taking minutes at all race committee meetings, Jury meetings and Team Captain’s meetings, handling all correspondence, receiving all entries and race entry fees, preparing the draw cards, preparing start lists, distributing and collecting bibs as well as giving out information. The Race Office is also responsible for the preparation and the distribution of the results. The Race Office is an appropriate place for volunteers who do not wish to be outside for the duration of the race and have excellent organizational and administrative skills.
Food and socials [off- hill position]
All volunteers are supplied with a lunch. Thus volunteers are needed to prepare these lunches ahead of time. In addition, most races include a social function to thank all the volunteers. Volunteers are needed to help organize the socials. This is a great volunteer position for individuals who do not wish to be or cannot be on the hill and perhaps have other commitments such as younger children.
The National Alpine Officials’ program is a structured and integrated program involving four levels of Officials. It is administered by the Alpine Canada Alpin (ACA) National Officials Committee which includes Officials Chairpersons from the Provincial Sports Organization (PSO) level. Given the requirement of parents to help organize WMSC races, all parents are expected to complete their Level One Officials Course. The course is organized at the start of the season and can be completed in just three hours.
Level One is a basic course prepared for race volunteers with little or no experience as alpine race officials. The goal is simple: To inform you about alpine ski racing. The different types of race events will be explained, how they are organized, the required personnel to run a race and the roles and duties of those involved. You will receive information on timing and learn the responsibilities of the Gate Judge. You will see examples illustrating diverse situations. The main objective is to allow all Level One Officials to better understand the fundamental aspects of alpine ski racing. All sports are regulated by a set of rules, and alpine skiing is no exception. However, during this course, only the necessary rules of this level will be presented, and in an informal manner.
The Level Two course is a detailed introduction to alpine ski racing and the roles and duties of various Officials positions. It is a fairly intensive course that does not repeat the material covered in Level One and does require some prior knowledge and experience in order that the material covered is absorbed to the best advantage. It takes 8 hours and includes a one-hour exam. On completion of the Level Two course, participants assume leadership positions within races, such as Chief of Course, Start Referee or Chief of Administration.
The Level Three course is an interactive one in which there is emphasis on discussion and exchange of ideas, opinions, and experiences by the participants and the instructor(s). The course is designed for Officials with considerable practical experience. It covers rules to particular disciplines as well as the work and duties of the Jury and Technical Delegate in detail. Also covered are the duties of senior Officials, course preparation, maintenance and setting, as well as calculations of points and penalties. Throughout the course, participants take part in many case studies taken from actual experiences and will be asked to make decisions on these as well as participating in Jury decisions. It takes 12 hours and includes a two hour open book exam.
In order to become a Level Four Official, it is necessary to be recommended to the National Officials Committee by the PSO (Provincial Sports Organization) Officials Chair. Level Four Officials are the most experienced Officials, having showed a superior level of ability.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Being a Race Volunteer
Most parents find volunteering for a race to be a fun and rewarding experience. However we ask that you respect the following guidelines:
- Make sure that at least one parent volunteers for each day of the race as well as at least one day of the set-up weekend.
- If both parents cannot volunteer all day because of other obligations, even portions of the day will be appreciated.
- If you have volunteered for a position please ensure you show up. Many people are relying on you to be there. If an emergency arises and you're not able to make it please contact your crew chief [you will be given their phone number ahead of time] as soon as possible.
- If you want to see your child race, consider being a course worker. That way you will be right on the course when your athlete races.
- Do not slip the course just before your athlete races and then disappear. While there is nothing wrong with slipping just before your child so you can meet them at the bottom of the course, please be aware that other racers are depending on you to return to the start to the course as soon as possible.
- If you are volunteering in the start area, please let the coaches do their job and manage the athletes. Parents often do more harm than good at the start of a race, despite their best intentions.
- If you do not know what to do, just ask a more experienced parent. No one has any expectations that you be perfect.
- Do not worry about carrying clothing [pants and jacket] down to the bottom of the course for the racers. The boys and girls ski at different times and usually perform this role for each other.
- Please avoid using your cell phone during the race. It can be distracting for the racers and other volunteers.
Volunteering at Away Races
Although we are under no obligation to volunteer when another mountain hosts a race, often they rely on WMSC parents to help out as we are generally the biggest club. In addition, volunteering means you are supplied with a lift ticket and you can get to see your athlete race on the hill. Typically other clubs require course workers and gate judges. To sign up, open the event file on the BC Alpine Calendar http://bcalpine.com/calendar/ . There you will find a place to volunteer.