News » Whistler

Stakeholders say Crankworx is here to stay

The riders stole the show with some incredible displays of athleticism but the success of this year’s Crankworx was also largely due to a powerful new business relationship between the Whistler Events Bureau, or WEB, and IMG.


WEB is a partnership between Whistler-Blackcomb, represented by Rob McSkimming; the municipality, represented by John Rae; and Tourism Whistler, represented by Arlene Schieven. IMG is one of the world’s biggest marketing organizations.

Vice President of IMG’s Action Sports division, Mark Taylor, was happy with the way Crankworx unfolded but he said the event had the potential to grow substantially bigger.

All of WEB’s representatives concurred with Taylor on this point.

"The crowd we had for the event on site Saturday rivaled any of the major events in Whistler to date," said Taylor.

"Saturday was a pretty spectacular night with the slopestyle event."

Taylor said he wanted the event to be the focal point for the resort in the summer.

"We had a lot of great elements to fill this as a community event; kids races and cruiser bike parades and a huge support of volunteers.

"But we’re still pushing for better music, better programing, better content as we go forward because we’ve built a good base for the festival and we think it’s going to grow substantially based on the success of this year."

One of the harshest criticisms the biking community has had about Whistler’s bike festivals is their lack of consistency.

In past years several different groups, including Whistler stakeholders, have attempted to create a bike festival, but many of these groups failed and/or left to promote festivals elsewhere.

But Taylor said, "Crankworx is hear to stay".

"The resort started a small regional festival last year with the Gravity Festival but due to some trademark issues with the Gravity Games we had to re-brand it," he said.

"But it gave us the opportunity to come back with a bigger, better, stronger package and now we’ve established a brand we want to last forever."

Another major issue several event organizers have had in the past year’s is conflicting event sponsors with Whistler-Blackcomb’s sponsors.

Taylor said in the case of Crankworx Whistler-Blackcomb’s major sponsors, such as General Motors and Telus were given the opportunity to sponsor the event but they declined.

"The mountains and resort sponsors all have the first opportunity to participate in any of the events, but once they decline the event we then we go to other people in key categories.

"Nissan was the only conflicting partner in this one because Siemens is hardware and Telus is software, so they’re compatible companies."

Rob McSkimming from Whistler-Blackcomb, who’s son, James, competed in Crankworx, said he was grateful for the sponsors of this year’s event.

"For us it would always be better if we could have our corporate sponsors involved but we also understand that there’s only so much they can invest, so from time to time we need to bring in other sponsors," said McSkimming.

"Hopefully what we’ve been able to do with this event is provide the kind of value that other supporters and sponsors would want to get interested in."

Ensuring that this event continues to grow will also allow for more prize money for big-name athletes such as Germany’s Timo Pritzel.

Pritzel finished second in the slopestyle, breaking his ankle and wrist in the process. For all his trouble he received $1,500 in prize money.

Arlene Schieven from Tourism Whistler said the initial reaction to Crankworx from the tourist industry in the village had been positive.

"We won’t know what the final numbers are until August, but as of about eight days before this event we were tracking about 12 per cent ahead (in room occupancy) of 2003 (Gravity Works).

"But I’ve talked to several properties that said they had really strong business over the weekend and there certainly seemed to be a lot of activity in the village."

John Rae from the municipality said Crankworx had provided a great opportunity for the resort to showcase itself to an international market.

"The opportunity is when we worked with IMG on more than one event is that a sponsor that’s impressed with us during the summer thinks ‘oh my god, this crew, this organization, this resort, these people’ – who are being attentive but also clearly understand how to develop and execute an event – ‘we want to work with them not just in the summer but we want to be back here in the winter’," said Rae.

"These kinds of relationships really assist us in developing long term corporate sponsorships, which we can use to fund events like Crankworx."