Whistler, BC – With a little over a week to go before the start of the 2014 Olympic Winter Games and just more than five weeks until the Paralympic Games, the people of Whistler gathered to celebrate the outstanding group of Sochi-bound athletes, coaches and mission staff who live and/or train in British Columbia.

The Canadian Sport Institute Pacific hosted the community celebration with support from the Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development and Whistler Sport Legacies. Under the theme of the ‘WE CAN Campaign’, which backs Own the Podium’s bold mission for to contend for number one during the 2014 Olympic Winter Games (total medals) and place in the top three in the gold medal count at the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games, the community heard from local Olympians, Paralympians and sport leaders while having the opportunity take part in activities such as the ParticipACTION Bring Back Winter Play Tour.

“Our athletes are the pride of B.C.,” said Coralee Oakes, Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development. “They show us what perseverance and grace under pressure look like and inspire us all. On behalf of Premier Christy Clark and the government of British Columbia, I wish every athlete a safe and successful Games in Sochi.”

It takes a community to build a champion, and the support provided by the more than 150 supporters who attended the event at the Whistler Athletes’ Centre bodes well for this winter’s Games.

“At the Canadian Sport Institute Pacific, it is our mandate to ensure athletes have every advantage they need to compete and win medals for Canada,” said Wendy Pattenden, Canadian Sport Institute Pacific CEO. “Our team is made up of many technical experts from across BC who work with national team athletes and their coaches on a daily basis to create optimal training environments to power podium performances.”

“I am really looking forward to representing Canada at my first Olympic Games,” exclaimed Marielle Thompson, 2014 Ski Cross Olympian and 2012 Crystal Globe winner. “With the support I’ve had from The Province of BC, the Canadian Sport Institute, and Whistler Sport Legacies, I know I am prepared to compete against the best in the world.”

The Canadian Olympic and Paralympic teams are in their final preparations for Sochi and BC athletes will play a leading role for Canada with medal hopefuls in several sports.