By Bob Barnett The World Freestyle Championships, which are coming to Blackcomb in 2001, may be followed up two years later by the FIS Snowboard World Championships. Mark Taylor of the Masters Group, the organization which has put on the FIS snowboard World Cup events at Whistler the last three years, said a decision on a bid for the 2003 FIS Snowboard World Championships will be finalized by the W5 Foundation in March. "We’ve met with the W5 and in March we’ll assess whether we move forward," said Taylor. "We had a chance to bid for the 1999 world championships but it wasn’t supported by the resort. But this time they’re all for it," Taylor added. "And the 2010 Olympic people are very supportive. They would like to have major events for each (Olympic) sport as a test." If the W5 decides to go ahead with the bid there is a good chance the world championships will be awarded to Blackcomb. Taylor said there are rumblings that Italy and the United States have discussed bids for the 2003 world championships but there has been no formal announcement. "My understanding is our bid is further along than those of Italy or the USA," Taylor said. If only one country bids for the worlds the FIS will award the 2003 world championships at their annual meeting in May. If there are two or more countries bidding the decision will be made in the fall. Taylor noted that the last several FIS world championships have been held in Europe, including the 1997 world championships which were in Italy. The 2001 world championships will also be held in Europe, so if a North American bid does go forward it would probably be well received. If it comes down to a Canadian bid versus an American bid for the world championships, Taylor suggested the Americans haven’t been as supportive of the FIS World Cup circuit as the Canadians, which should help Blackcomb’s bid. If the W5 decides to back a bid for the world championships they would take place from Jan. 25 to Feb. 2 of 2003 and include seven official events — GS, parallel GS, slalom, parallel slalom, super G, halfpipe and snowboard cross — as well as some exhibition events. Taylor said all the official events would take place on Blackcomb and initial plans are to have all events finish in the Base II area. "Having them on the lower part of the mountain, we could bring the events to the people," Taylor said. A central finish area, lower on the mountain, would also help with television coverage. A live satellite TV feed is required every day, for each event of the world championships — the largest single expense of the world championship bid. "The (television) demands are considerably higher than for the snowboard World Cup, which allows us to go on a tape-delay basis," Taylor said. Taylor said the W5 Foundation’s interest in bidding for the snowboard world championships has probably been sparked by three years of successful World Cup events, Ross Rebagliati’s Olympic gold medal and the 2010 Olympic bid. The International Olympic Committee will decide in 2003 who will be awarded the 2010 Winter Games. A successful FIS Snowboard World Championships, following the 2001 Freestyle World Championships on Blackcomb and the 2001 World Figure Skating Championships in Vancouver, would likely boost the Vancouver-Whistler Olympic bid. A bid for the World Alpine Ski Championships may also be considered prior to 2010.