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A freewheeling festival


Whistler Gravity Festival brings top mountain bikers to Whistler

For seven days in July, Whistler will be the epicenter of the mountain bike world, with events ranging from our national mountain bike championships to international bikercross, trials, slick tire, and freeride events.

The Whistler Summer Gravity Festival is in its first year, although many of the events are in their second and third year.

The Festival was created to follow the Grouse Mountain UCI World Cup the weekend before, ensuring that the top athletes from around the globe will be in the neighbourhood. Last year the events brought out top World Cup names like Steve Peat of Great Britain, Cedric Gracia and Anne-Caroline Chausson of France, Brian Lopes of the U.S., as well all of the top Canadian riders.

On top of all the competitions, the festival will feature movie premiers, demos, a mountain bike industry expo at the base of the mountain, guided tours of local trails, and various camps and clinics hosted by the pros.

For Whistler, mountain biking is a growing business. Ridership in the Whistler Mountain Bike Park has been growing between 50 and 60 per cent each year, with a record 46,000 rider visits logged last season. This season, the park is on course to break the record once again.

A River Runs Through It, one of Whistler’s most popular local trails, had more than 14,000 riders over a three month period last summer. And it is only one of dozens of such bike trails in Whistler.

The RMOW, Tourism Whistler and Intrawest have all embraced mountain biking as a key recreational activity in town, and are actively promoting Whistler as the top mountain bike destination in North America.

The Whistler Summer Gravity Festival combines all disciplines of the sport, packing them in a spectator friendly way that can only enhance Whistler’s growing reputation as a dirt lover’s paradise.

Chris Winter, the manager of communications for the festival, credits the growth of mountain biking in town to the energy and vision of Whistler riders.

"I think the main reason why Whistler is going off in so many respects comes from the community and the people, the passion of the local mountain bikers to build trails, to ride daily, to get everybody psyched about it," said Winter.

Whistler has helped to contribute to the whole mountain bike freeride movement, which began in the North Shore trails, and in the interior with riders like Richie Schley pushing the limits, mixing BMX and mountain bike disciplines to create a whole new sport.

The freeride movement has in turn influenced bike technology as a whole, said Winter, contributing to the redesign of bikes for road racing, cross-country mountain biking, and other sports.

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