While actual visitor numbers from Kokanee Crankworx won’t be released until mid-August, organizers are already calling the nine-day freeride mountain bike festival a success, with a huge international turnout of riders, a packed village, and massive crowds at Crankworx events.
One number that organizers could provide were rider numbers for the Whistler Mountain Bike Park. According to Whistler-Blackcomb, they set several park records during the festival, including their busiest day ever (2,197 riders), three consecutive days with over 2,000 riders, and the most riders in the bike park in one week (12,383). In total, 14,495 riders rode the park over nine days, the first three of which were tempered by rain.
“The event exceeded all of the partners’ expectations, as we’re obviously thrilled with the results,” said Jeremy Roche, general manager of Kokanee Crankworx. “We had a packed village, hotels that were full, and the athletes and spectators had a great time. Considering that this was a three-day event taking place over a weekend not that long ago, we’re very happy.”
Crankworx was produced by Events Whistler, an organization that includes Whistler-Blackcomb, Tourism Whistler, and the Resort Municipality of Whistler. Roche, an employee of Whistler-Blackcomb, says the festival is still a work in progress.
“I think there’s still a lot of opportunity to grow,” he said. “I think we can tighten up some of the programming, and there’s a great opportunity to grow the entertainment lineup.
“There are still a number of high-profile athletes that haven’t been here, or made their first trip to Crankworx this year. For example, two time world downhill champion Fabien Barel came to Crankworx for the first time this year, and he’s promised to come back.”
One way to get athletes out in the future will be increasing the prize purse. In total, more than $44,000 in prize money was given out for the pro categories, including almost $20,000 in the Slopestyle.
“No doubt about it, that’s something we’d like to grow,” said Roche. “Each year we’ve grown the prize money, and it’s our intention to ratchet that up further. Obviously we’re competing for riders, because there are events taking place all over the world and the athletes can pick and choose where they want to go and you need prize money to drive them here.
“That said, Whistler is a fun place, the riders really enjoy their time here and choose to stay awhile. Athletes were here before the festival, and will be here a long time after, there are (photo and video) shoots going on everywhere this week. To say it’s all about prize money would be wrong, but it definitely helps.”