When the 2005 Snowboard World Championships come to Whistler in January, there is a lot at stake for the athletes world championship titles that will last until 2007, qualifying spots for the Torino Olympics in 2006, the opportunity to gain financial support from national sports organizations like Sports Canada, international publicity, and, of course, bragging rights.
This is the first time since FIS started to sanction World Cup snowboarding competitions in 1994 that a North American resort has hosted a FIS World Championship. The FIS World Championships are held every two years.
The sponsors and organizers held a press conference in Vancouver last week to showcase their plans for the event.
According to Mark Taylor, the vice president of IMG Action Sports, the event is coming together.
"We secured our presenting sponsor for the event, which is Nokia, and we secured another major partner with Telus as well and Whistler-Blackcomb has been great, so were in good shape about seven months out," said Taylor.
Taylor was at the biannual FIS Congress in Miami last week to finalize sponsorship deals and secure Whistlers rights to continue to host a World Cup snowboarding weekend in future years.
With most of the large sponsorships secured, IMG Sports in now free to pursue other sponsors for the event, as well as international broadcast rights to the event.
"Its a lot of negotiation and a lot of meetings a lot of politics, too but weve established the broadcast rights for North America and are in the final negotiation for secondary broadcast rights as well," said Taylor.
The 2005 Snowboard World Championships will be broadcast for two hours on NBC in the U.S. and for six hours on CBC in Canada. In addition, the Outdoor Life Network and Sportsnet will likely carry secondary broadcasts.
More than 400 athletes from over 40 countries are expected to attend and compete in five disciplines. The alpine disciplines are the parallel giant slalom and parallel slalom; the freestyle disciplines are halfpipe, snowboard cross and big air.
There will be hundreds of reporters in Whistler, as well as several international television crews that are expected to broadcast more than 150 hours to more than 100 million viewers around the world.
More importantly for Whistler, construction is already underway on a new $300,000 in-ground halfpipe venue at Base II on Blackcomb Mountain, which was funded by the World Championships and Whistler-Blackcomb.
The pipe will be built to Olympic specifications and will have permanent lighting, which will make it available for night riding and as a training venue for teams and athletes.
The temporary grandstands that will be built at the site could also function as the finish area for the alpine events and the big air. The snowboard cross will be held further up the mountain, but will be broadcast on large screens at the site.
Base II will also host the Festival of Champions celebration during the festival, which will include invitational snowboarding contests, sponsor displays, and a stage that will feature live musical acts and entertainers.
More information will be available as the event gets closer. In the meantime, most of the information can be found online at www.whistlerworlds.com.