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Beyond the X Games bid

Factors beyond Whistler's control wreak havoc with its bid to host premiere action sports event



Losing the X Games has whetted Whistler's appetite for more — more festival fun and excitement, and perhaps more importantly, greater worldwide exposure.

After this week's surprise shut out of the X Games global expansion, with its broadcast reach of more than 300 million households, its increasingly recognizable brand and its rapidly expanding internet media platform, Whistler is setting its sights on other ways of getting on the global map.

This week Tourism Whistler announced a new events position designed to entice third party event producers to the resort, part of an ongoing strategy.

"We think it's extremely important, so much so that we're actually creating a position that will be going out and proactively soliciting these events," said Tourism Whistler president and CEO Barrett Fisher.

But even with an eye to the future, there is still the sting of losing out on the chance to host the biggest snow sports event in the world after the Olympic Games.

"I think we'll keep looking for an event or events out there that will bring us that (global reach) in the future," said a disappointed Dave Brownlie, chief operating office of Whistler Blackcomb, one of the partners in the bid to win the X Games along with Tourism Whistler and Whistler Sport Legacies.

But what's out there beyond the Olympics and the X Games?

"It could be (being) back on the World Cup circuit," mused Brownlie. "Getting on the schedule, getting the right time slot, I think that would be another great fit for Whistler.

"As a community, as a world-class resort, we need to continue to look at ways to put our brand out onto the world. And hosting events such as the X Games or others of that stature just provide that avenue. It's about marketing. It's about getting Whistler out there in the world."

Fisher added that in addition to sports it could be arts and culture or culinary — something that relates to Whistler's brand and the core of its business.

Tuesday's announcement that the X Games would be expanding its brand with three summer games, rather than another winter stop in Whistler next April, was met with shock, surprise and disappointment across the board from the Mayor of Whistler, to the winner of last month's World Skiing Invitational in Whistler.

Skier Mike Riddle had his fingers crossed for the Whistler bid, hoping to showcase his skills in front of a hometown crowd against the backdrop of the X Games buzz and the huge television exposure.

"It would have been nice to showcase our talents on home turf on the Games stage," he said.

Whistler was the only winter city shortlisted in the nine finalists. It was gunning for the April timeslot and it seemed as though its chances were more than good, particularly after several partners committed funding and support.