Whistler goes for snowboard world championships By Bob Barnett Whistler will submit a bid this week to host the 2003 FIS snowboard world championships, but won’t know for another year if it has won. Whistler-Blackcomb, the Whistler Resort Association and the municipality, the three primary members of the W5 Foundation, agreed late Monday to each put up one-third of the 100,000 Swiss franc deposit, after a private sponsor pulled out on April 29, the day before the deadline to notify the FIS about bids. Whistler’s only competition for the world championships is Kreischberg, Austria, a resort which has held World Cup snowboard events in the past but isn’t an annual fixture on the World Cup circuit. "I’ve heard positive feedback from FIS people already. We’re looking good," said Mark Taylor, who left Tuesday for the FIS meetings in Slovenia, where the bid will be presented. The fact that the FIS agreed to extend the deadline for Whistler’s bid deposit, until May 6, was itself unprecedented and bodes well for the Whistler bid, Taylor told Whistler council Monday evening. The FIS snowboard world championships have never been held outside of Europe, a fact which is also expected to help Whistler’s bid. As well, Taylor said the world championships have always been held at what he called "tier II" resorts, while Whistler is well known internationally. "Everyone in the W5 is confident," Taylor said of Whistler’s chances to win the bid. The FIS will announce the successful bidder for the 2003 world championships at its biennial Congress in Melbourne, Australia in the spring of 2000. If the FIS world championships are awarded to Whistler they would come two years after the resort hosts the FIS world freestyle championships and just months before the International Olympic Committee awards the 2010 Winter Olympics. "It’s a key stepping stone to the Olympics," Taylor said of the snowboard world championships, adding all events would take place on sites proposed for the 2010 Games. The world championships include super G, giant slalom, parallel giant slalom, parallel slalom, snowboard cross and halfpipe as official events. Exhibition events, such as a big air contest, would also be part of the world championships, Taylor said. All official events would be on Blackcomb, with events finishing at the Base II area. Taylor said the private bid sponsor backed out on Thursday afternoon when it became known Kreischberg was also submitting a bid. "The sponsor got cold feet when he heard Austria was in," Taylor said. "It was an incredibly stressful 24 hours (prior to the April 30 deadline). I’d invested a lot of time and the W5 overcame a lot of hurdles." Six weeks ago, when Taylor presented the world championship bid to the W5 Foundation, the group said it didn’t have the 100,000 SF for the bid, after losing World Cup ski races three years in a row due to inclement weather. However, Whistler council approved the money (approximately $33,000 Cdn.) Monday night, after Whistler-Blackcomb and the WRA board agreed to put up equal amounts. A key factor in reconsidering funding the bid was a relatively stable operating budget and a revenue sharing agreement, which is different from World Cup events. A 60:40 revenue split with the FIS could see Whistler bringing in $3.2 million in revenue, and an estimated $400,000 in profit. The bid fee is only refunded for successful bids. The municipality, Whistler-Blackcomb and the WRA will be repaid in 2002, if the Whistler bid is successful. The municipality is using a portion of the hotel tax to pay its share of the bid fee. The WRA is using money from its marketing budget. Local hotels are also supporting the bid by providing rooms. Taylor, who organizes the snowboard World Cup events at Whistler, will meet with CSF representatives at the FIS meetings in Slovenia to try and settle the final details on a five-year commitment to keeping the World Cup here. The two have an agreement in principle but still must finalize details before a contract is signed. The agreement will see Whistler hosting World Cup snowboard events each December from 1999 to 2001 as part of the W5’s WinterStart Festival. There would be no World Cup event in the 2002-2003 season if Whistler wins the 2003 world championships.