News » Whistler

WC sponsors

Domestic sponsors satisfied The cancellation of last weekend’s World Cup races disappointed the Canadian Alpine Ski Team and their fans, but domestic sponsors were satisfied with what they got out of the surrounding festival. "Most of the domestic sponsors, everything we promise them comes before the race," said Don McQuaid of the Masters Group, organizers of the Hongkong Bank Whistler Ski Classic event. "Subaru, the Hongkong Bank, Chevron — they all thought it was really positive," McQuaid said, adding "they were looking for the pre-publicity, the townsite exposure, and all of that was there. The only thing lost was the race, and that was for completely understandable reasons." The European sponsors, those whose names appeared on the race bibs, the start hut and the finish corral, are primarily after the television exposure the World Cup races bring in Europe. The support of the domestic sponsors allowed a whole festival to be built around the races. They were primarily looking for local exposure and a tie in with Whistler. The W5 Foundation, which owns the Whistler World Cup races, fought to secure 30 per cent of the marketing rights so it could attract local sponsors and build a community festival around the races. McQuaid called this year’s festival "the first baby steps toward what it can be. "In my mind everything happened from the festival side. I’m really happy with how it came together." But he said the festival side of the event is going to have to receive greater attention in the future. "We’ve got 450 people working inside the (race course) fences and about four-and-a-half people working outside the fences. What happens outside the fences is a benefit to the community. "The next step is to build a stronger festival and service the sponsors better." McQuaid pointed to professional sports teams which are renovating or building new stadiums and arenas to put on a better show and to provide more for their sponsors. "You look at the NBA, basketball is not the only thing going on there. You need entertainment going on all the time. "We’re competing against the Greater Vancouver Open, the Grizzlies, hockey, the Ford Theatre. Those signs on the hill pay the bills." McQuaid noted that it was guests of the Hongkong bank who paid $15,000 for the premier auction item at Saturday night’s Festival of Lights gala — dinner for 100 at Umberto Menghi’s Trattoria di Umberto — and suggested that was an example of how festival sponsors are bringing new money into the community through the event. As for the loss of the races, McQuaid said the W5 will take a financial hit, but the risk was minimized through insurance. "The FIS is supportive and our domestic sponsors will be back," he said.