With lineups every weekend that filled the corral and snaked off into mountain square, everybody suspected that the Whistler Mountain Bike Park was having a record year.
Despite all the rain this season the number of rider visits increased 55 per cent over 2000, which is the second dramatic increase in as many years. Compared to the 1999 figures, where 18,000 rider visits were logged, the 2000 numbers were up my more than 60 per cent.
"This was a real break-out year for the park and the response to our new trails and features was overwhelming," says Jason Roe, the Whistler Mountain Bike Park manager. "As the season went on the momentum built. Our biggest day ever was on our second last day of operation."
The largest increase in ridership came from the most skilled, aggressive and committed riders, sometimes referred to as freeriders. This consists of riders between the ages of 20 and 30, who ride several days per week and own at least one full suspension mountain bike.
The bike park catered to this demographic with the addition of several extreme runs, including A-line, Rippin Rutabega, and Crab Apple Hits.
There was a also a significant increase in the number of visitors from the Vancouver area.
"Sixty per cent of the parks riders live in the Lower Mainland," says Roe. "These people came to Whistler specifically to ride the park. This is definitely a testament to the many people that have put their effort and vision into creating a great experience."
The growth is expected to continue next year. A variety of new trails, ranging from beginner to intermediate, are being planned for next season. Details will be released in the spring.