Page 2 of 6
The new trails being developed at the Bike Park, like Ninja Cougar, Crank it Up, Karate Monkey or Blue Velvet — another blue run under construction in the alpine to provide an intermediate option in the Garbanzo Zone — are part of this evolution towards opening the gates to a broader rider-base.
“The type of rider that will enjoy that experience is way wider than our trail target was previously,” says McSkimming.
That narrower trail target, explains McSkimming’s colleague Jeremy Roche, Manager of Summer Business Development and Crankworx, was driven to some degree by the passion and riding skills of the trail builders.
“One of the big factors that contributed to the success and growth of the bike park is that the park management and trail builders built trails that they wanted to ride when they put away their shovels and took the keys out of the tractors. And that has contributed to a base of core aggressive style trails.”
It also contributed to the estrangement of a huge potential market, keen bike-riders who had never set foot in the Park.
In 2006, an economic impact study was conducted by Western Canada Mountain Bike Tourism Association to measure the effect of mountain biking in the Sea to Sky corridor. The numbers made headlines. The trail systems of the North Shore, Squamish and Whistler (not including the Bike Park) generated $10.3 million from visiting riders in one summer alone, with Whistler accounting for almost two-thirds of the spending. Good news for local trail advocates.
But the report also offered what would be taken as a challenge at the Whistler Mountain Bike Park’s HQ: “there are two distinct groups of mountain bike riders in Whistler, one group who rode on the Whistler Valley trails and the other group being those who rode in the Whistler Bike Park. There appears to be very little cross-over between the two groups, as less than 10% of those who were interviewed in the valley had ridden, or were planning to ride, the bike park on that trip.”
While the Bike Park had succeeded in becoming a destination driver, creating $16.2 million in visitor spending by people who had come to Whistler specifically to experience the Park, it had not succeeded in enticing people who were already in Whistler, already on bicycles, and driven here partially in order to ride the cross-country trails, to check out the product.
The Whistler Mountain Bike Park was already the most visited facility of its kind in North America. But it was an obvious business decision to try and convert some of those trail riders into park visitors.