As published in the New York Times

Volunteers at Whistler Do the Grunt Work, and Love It
February 24, 2010

WHISTLER, British Columbia — When his daughter won a gold medal last week, Karl Ricker was on a different mountain, being a Weasel. It is a term of affection.

Ricker is an original member of the Whistler Weasel Workers, a volunteer group dating to the 1970s that prepares courses for international ski races here. No project has been bigger than the day-and-night preparation for the Winter Olympics.

On Monday at the Weasel House, the popular after-work beer tent, Ricker wore an identification badge that showed he had worked all 22 days of the month on the course — including last Tuesday, when Maëlle Ricker won the gold medal in snowboard cross.

“I was trying to keep people from crossing the course where the winch-cats were working,” Ricker said of the moment his daughter won, about 90 minutes away at Cypress Mountain. Someone told him over a walkie-talkie.

Yes, the Weasel Workers are a dedicated group, about 400 people strong who have expanded their friendly fraternity to about 1,200 for the Olympics. They are people who can take a few weeks off and do not mind traipsing up and down the courses (one men’s and one women’s) at all hours shoveling snow, erecting fences, fixing gates and so on. They do the anonymous grunt work.

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