Money Troubles for Olympic Host Whistler


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The Whistler Blackcomb ski resort, host of the Vancouver Winter Olympics, February 12 to 28, will be up for public auction on February 19, the CBC reports. Bidders can vie for a membership interest in Intrawest Holdings, Whistler's owner, which also owns Squaw Valley in California and Steamboat and Winter Park in Colorado, among other resorts.

Intrawest's owner, the Wall Street hedge fund Fortress Investments LLC,missed a $524-million payment on the loan that it used to buy Intrawestin 2006. The loan's primary lender is the bankrupt Lehman Brothers investment bank. Lehman owes a debt of about $1 trillion, so it has an incentive to raise funds by selling assets, the New York Post reports.

It seems Whistler will still host the Vancouver Winter Olympics, though, despite reports of Olympic officials threatening to pull back the $50 million they put up to support Whistler through the Games. VANOC's President Dan Doyle said: “We understandably cannot comment on Intrawest's finances beyond ourcontinued support for their efforts to settle outstanding financialmatters. What we can confirm is that Whistler Blackcomb is an important partner in the staging of the 2010Games, and we continue working in very close partnership with them tofinalize overall preparations and readiness for the skiing and slidingsport events.”

Intrawest CEO Bill Jensen said, “It's business as usual.” 

For more on the 2010 Winter Olympics, check out the January/February issue of Outside.

–Aileen Torres