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TWSSF becoming 'a victim of its own success'

Organizers hope to increase grass roots participation at 2008 festival



Event organizers of the Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival hope the 2008 events schedule gives more opportunity to local and amateur artists and athletes to showcase their talent.

This was the point driven home by festival managing director Sue Eckersley during a community input session, held Tuesday, Nov. 20 in Whistler.

“This event has become a victim of its own success,” said Eckersley.

“What saddens me with the huge growth of the event is that there really isn’t room anymore for the local artists who helped to make this happen in the first place,” she said.

In order to encourage more grass-roots participation, organizers have added new events and expanded old ones for the next TWSSF, which will take place April 11-20, 2008. One of the biggest ways Eckersley hopes to do this is by adding a second day to screening the films created during the Filmmaker Showdown.

Last year 70 short films were submitted, with only the top eight getting screened at the film gala. By adding a second day, the 40 films that never made it to the big screen will also get airtime during the TWSSF.

“The calibre of the event has increased so much since it started. In our first year, it was all local filmmakers. But now, as the popularity of the event has increased, we have filmmakers from the East Coast of Canada, L.A., Vancouver, and Montreal,” said Eckersley.

“The people who helped start this event are no longer getting in… And our local filmmakers are not something we want to forget. We want to ensure they continue to participate,” she said.

Yahoo is also looking at conducting a filmmaker search before the festival to get filmmakers across North America involved in the event. Participants would be able to enter online and would have two weeks to create an original movie, similar in length and style to those showcased at TWSSF. The winner of the contest would then get flown into Whistler to participate in the actual Filmmaker Showdown.

Another way organizers are hoping to get more people involved is by adding a qualifying round to the Big Air competition. Right now athletes who compete in the Big Air are selected by invitation. By opening up participation to those who make it through a qualifying round, TWSSF organizers hope more “unknowns” get to showcase their talent.

Unfortunately not many people were present at this week’s TWSSF open house to hear about the upcoming events.

Only seven people showed up to the afternoon session, which organizers put on to ensure the community had input into the festival.