World Cup fest fizzles lack of time, budget blamed By Chris Woodall Some World Cup festival events fizzled like a wet firecracker and the Whistler Ski Classic passport bombed, prompting organizers to regroup for better plans next year. But that's not to say festival organizers are in the dumps. With only six weeks to slap together a core program and with zero budget, festival committee chairman Nick Davies says he's satisfied a good job was done given the circumstances. "We've already ID'd what the problems were." In particular, the Big Band Swing event suffered from an activity that would keep people in the conference centre once the bib draw was completed, Davies says. Although 864 followed the Friday evening parade into the centre, only a few dozen people stayed behind to dance and jive to the 18-piece swing orchestra that were on stage afterward. Those who left missed out on a good time. The band played on regardless of the near-empty room, to enthusiastic response from the dance hall devotees. The passport also underwhelmed. Nesters only sold 120 of the 300 passes it had initially ordered. Nesters was to have 500 on hand for sale at a "local's rate" of $10, instead of the full-priced $15. The passes were to give the wearer access to discounts and specials from Whistler bars, restaurants and participating retail stores. Another disappointment was the Canadian National Ski Team. "We had a definite commitment they would be participating in the parade, but they didn't show up," Davies says. "I know some of these guys and they wouldn't deliberately not show up. I think somebody dropped the ball somewhere." Other events surprised Davies for their popularity. Thursday night's snowman and Christmas decoration contests "were a blast," Davies says, because of they were geared to participation by locals. "I don't think we had any events we wouldn't want to do again," Davies says in retrospect. "I don't think the events were marketed aggressively enough." The festival committee will be looking for more sponsorships for next year to help feed the promotional fires needed to make the events successful, Davies says. The late start this year didn't help in that department. "It's tough to get a company to write a cheque for $10,000 when they'd committed their promotions budget by last spring," Davies says. The festival committee has recently met while World Cup memories are fresh. Then the group will sit back for a month to recharge their enthusiasm before getting into the trenches to plan for World Cup '97. "We've got tons of ideas, but we've had to shelve them until other years," Davies says. Among those ideas are to have, for example, filmmaker Greg Stump premier his annual ski film during World Cup week. A musical event similar to a MuchMusic outdoors stage with alternating bands is another scheme on the drawing board, Davies says. "There's room for an event with a wide appeal, but that alternative wasn't there this year." But starting earlier and building on previous experience will pay off. "We had to bite off what we could chew and have a solid core of events," Davies says. "In three years we should have a seriously successful week of events."