Alan Kristmanson, general manager and director of golf at the Whistler Golf Club, has found a unique way to spend the off-season, one that has included meetings with the Prince of Monaco and the Governor General of Canada, among others.
By serving as co-mayor of the athlete’s village in Whistler during the Vancouver Winter Olympics, Kristmanson is continuing his own Olympic legacy. You can get regular updates on Kristmanson’s experience here.
“What they were looking for is somebody that’s experienced in the athlete’s village as an athlete, somebody who kind of gets it from the athletes’ perspective,” said Kristmanson from Whistler on Monday.
“Then, they wanted to combine that with somebody who has lived in Whistler for a long time and understands the resort,” he added.
“My role basically, from a formal point of view, is every time a team comes in, officially they do a team welcome ceremony, so they raise their flag in the village, so I speak at that with the chef de mission from each country,” said Kristmanson.
“I speak to all the athletes from a Whistler perspective and talk about my experiences,” he said.
“The other side of it’s been that they want me to be the eyes of all the volunteer staff that are there, meaning that the volunteers understand that the athletes’ village is a place where the athletes need to go to unwind and get away,” he added.
“They get enough people asking them for pins and autographs and that sort of thing outside the village, so they don’t want any of that going on inside, so just making sure that culture is there,” he said.
Part of the job is also meeting visiting heads of state. “They all want to see what conditions the athletes are being put under,” said Kristmanson, who is used to meeting big names as a former player with the national basketball team.
That experience included an Olympic appearance in 1988 in Seoul, followed by a run-in with the legendary Dream Team in Olympic qualifying prior to the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona.
As intimidating as tipping off against the likes of Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan might seem, Kristmanson said he looked forward to playing the best in the world, even if Canada did lose and didn’t qualify.
“They were a classy team and they played well together,” he said. “Magic Johnson really controlled that team and kept everybody in line. They were very respectful, had nothing but good things to say after our game and deserved to do as well as they did.”
It was about the same time that Kristmanson got to play with another star, albeit of the future variety, when a 19-year-old Steve Nash, one of several people to light the indoor Olympic cauldron last Friday, worked out with the Canadian team.
Kristmanson recalls talking with Nash about it years later.
“He said, `Do you remember when I practiced with you guys in Victoria?’ I said, `I tell everybody I know that story.’ He’s a pretty grounded guy,” said Kristmanson, who spent four years doing commentary on Vancouver Grizzies broadcasts before that team left Vancouver.
He also got his teaching degree at Simon Fraser University, coached basketball and wound up in Whistler when his wife landed a job there. There was no high school in Whistler at the time, so he turned to another passion.
“Golf was always a passion, so I worked seasonally one year at the Whistler Golf Club,” said Kristmanson, who first started playing in high school.
“I always enjoyed the service industry, having worked in restaurants at university, and golf was something that was really interesting to me, so I went into the CPGA program and next thing you know, I’m the GM here,” said Kristmanson, who joined the Whistler club full-time in 1996.