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Whistler expected to host snowboard world championships


Whistler is expected to be awarded the 2005 FIS Snowboard World Championships at next month’s FIS Congress meeting in Slovenia.

Whistler, in a partnership with the Canadian Ski and Snowboard Association, the Canadian Snowboard Federation, Whistler-Blackcomb, Tourism Whistler and the municipality, submitted the only bid the FIS received for the 2005 world championships.

"We knew it was ours as long as the terms were acceptable to us," said Mark Taylor of MASEV Communications, the Vancouver company which organizes the FIS Snowboard World Cup events at Whistler and is doing the same for the world championships.

The same partnership submitted a bid to host the 2003 FIS Snowboard World Championships two years ago, but lost to Kreischberg, Austria. That unsuccessful bid cost Whistler $86,000 in a non-refundable bid deposit. However, losing the bid may have been a blessing in disguise.

Since then a German marketing group which owned the sponsorship and marketing rights to the world championships has collapsed. The result is Kreischberg is scrambling to find new sponsors – and revenue – to support next winter’s world championships.

That also means the terms have changed for the 2005 world championships. Previously the FIS sold all rights to the event, leaving limited opportunities for the host resort and event organizers to make money. For 2005 there is less control of sponsorship and marketing rights by European companies. For instance, MASEV will be negotiating television deals with North American broadcasters – likely CBC and NBC. A television deal won’t be finalized until the contract for the world championships is signed next month in Slovenia.

It also means Whistler hotels, which have traditionally provided accommodation for World Cup events at deeply discounted prices, will get better rates for the 2005 world championships.

Because the bid for the 2005 world championships is Whistler’s second time at the FIS table the bid deposit was only 75 per cent of what it was two years ago. That translates to $62,000 of municipal funds. The event is consistent with the Whistler 2002 document’s priority of "enhancing the Whistler experience" and supporting major sport and cultural events.

The 2005 FIS Snowboard World Championships will take place between Jan. 25 and Feb. 1 of 2005. There will be live television broadcasts to Europe and North America, as well as live-to-tape broadcasts from the event. All events are scheduled for Blackcomb, although final sites on Blackcomb have yet to be determined.

The FIS Snowboard World Championships have never been held outside of Europe.

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