Year-end festival will bring ski and snowboard world to Whistler Contrary to general belief, the ski season doesn’t end at Easter — at least not anymore. The World Ski and Snowboard Festival, April 5-14, is going to be the biggest event of the year in Whistler, according to organizer Doug Perry. "We’ll have at least 1,500 athletes competing, 17 ski and snowboard publications will be here to cover it, and four different television shows will come out of the festival," Perry says. Perry announced plans for The World Ski and Snowboard Festival early last fall, but few people realize how big the 10-day event will be. The festival brings together six major ski and snowboard competitions: The World Technical Skiing Championships, which will be held on both mountains; Blackcomb’s Powerbar Couloir Ski Race Extreme; the World Masters Alpine Open, bringing the top Masters racers from Europe, the U.S.A. and Japan to Whistler; the Air Canada Whistler Cup international juvenile race on Whistler Mountain; the North American KokaneeKross and KokaneeKicker Hot Air Championship snowboarding events on Blackcomb; and the Westbeach Halfpipe Championships and Evening Aerial Show on Whistler Mountain. In addition to the competitions there will be Industry Week, mini trade shows featuring next year’s equipment, a Family Festival, a professional ski instructors symposium and ski school directors conference, live bands throughout the town, a variety of ski films and many on-hill festivities. The festival has generated so much interest from people in the ski and snowboard industries that hotel space for the period following Easter — which is usually a lean time — is quickly filling up. The exposure for the resort will not only be during the festival, but also next November, when the four TV shows are aired. The Sports Network, which aired last season’s Whistler Cup in December, will also be showing this year’s Whistler Cup. Other events that will be on TV are the Kokanee snowboard events, the World Technicals and a one hour show — to be broadcast on six networks world wide — which will show highlights of the whole festival. Perry says Industry Week is really starting to shape up as a big part of the festival. Held after the annual Las Vegas show, where next year’s equipment and fashions are unveiled, Industry Week will bring together ski area operators, suppliers, film makers and athletes. "Vegas is the place where people fill sales orders for the following winter," Perry says. "We hope to make Whistler the place where people get together every spring in a more relaxed atmosphere." Ski Canada magazine will be doing it’s slope test of 1996-97 skis during the festival, a number of suppliers will have demo skis and boards on the hill for the public and industry people to try and the Canadian Ski Council will be holding its spring meeting. A ski instructors festival, bringing together top Canadian and foreign Interski team members, will precede the Professional Ski Instructors of America Symposium and the North American Ski School Directors Conference. The festival atmosphere will include the Kokanee Roch ’n Ski party, with three apres-ski bands and three night bands around town, as well as a concert at the conference centre. The band at the conference centre has yet to be announced. The Family Festival will continue throughout the 10 days, with on-hill programs, events, workshops and performances for youths and families. "The festival will be a year end party, a toast to the season," Perry says.