Interpretations of what went wrong vary but all parties agree Whistlers announcement that it will not host a triple World Cup mountain bike event this summer will hurt the resorts reputation.
How much the resort will suffer remains to be seen, but one company has been forced to close and frustration has spread throughout the cycling community.
Whistler-based TEAM Management announced last week that the World Cup events planned for July 7-8, 2001 had been cancelled by the W3, which is made up of Whistler-Blackcomb, Tourism Whistler and the Resort Municipality of Whistler. The official explanation, according to TEAMs release, was the financial risk was too high.
A release from the W3 said the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), the sports governing body, announced the cancellation due to the lack of a final contract agreement in time to plan the competition.
Negotiations between TEAM and the W3 over a contract to run the triple World Cup cross-country, downhill and dual slalom events began last spring but were never successfully concluded. There were also disputes over the budget required to put on a successful World Cup.
Even the matter of who the UCI awarded the World Cup to is not clear.
Marika Koenig and Claire Bonin of TEAM Management submitted a World Cup bid to the UCI in September, 1999, which included a bid fee and a sanctioning fee. The bid was submitted with the approval of Cycling B.C. and the Canadian Cycling Association. The W5 Foundation, which was formed to oversee the now-defunct World Cup downhill ski races and which still organizes the Whistler WinterStart festival, also endorsed the bid.
According to Koenig, last January the UCI awarded the triple World Cup to TEAM. Three months later the UCI instituted a new policy whereby first time triple World Cup organizers were required to have their contract with the UCI signed by the host venue. TEAM then went to the W5 Foundation, but because that organizations original mandate the World Cup ski races no longer existed, the organization felt it wasnt in a position to co-sign the contract.
Thats when the W3 was formed, although it is not a legal entity like the W5 Foundation. According to Koenig, TEAM proposed a partnership with the W3 but was turned down. The two parties then entered into negotiations regarding ownership of the event and to establish a working agreement. TEAM felt the contract they were finally offered by the W3 was one-sided and the budget the W3 proposed for the World Cup approximately half of the $900,000 TEAM proposed was insufficient.