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Whistler must act quickly to capitalize

Mountain biking at European, American resorts catching up fast

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By Claire Piech

Whistler has a head start on the mountain biking scene, but the resort needs to move fast if it wants to maintain that position.

This was the point driven home by mountain bike expert Richard Juryn during his talk “Mountain Biking in Whistler - the Impact on our Economy” at the Whistler Chamber of Commerce Luncheon Wednesday.

“Mountain biking is still in its infancy stages, and right now, Whistler has it all. It is a marketing dream,” said Juryn.

“The resort has the number one bike park in the world, and it has an international reputation. But the time span to capitalize on that is starting to shrink,” he said.

According to Juryn, stiff competition in the mountain biking industry is emerging from other international resorts, particularly 7stanes in Scotland and the Alta Rezia Region in Northern Italy and Southern Switzerland.

“Europe is moving lightning fast to really market mountain biking — and if we don’t act fast, we are going to be left behind,” said Juryn.

Whistler also faces competition from Moab and Tamarack Resort in the U.S.

Juryn stressed the need for Whistler businesses to set up “one stop shops” where mountain bikers can meet all their needs, such a bike transportation, storage, and maintenance, at one convenient location.

“Make it easy, keep it local,” said Juryn.

He also discussed Kokanee Crankworx as a key opportunity to showcase the resort’s mountain biking terrain internationally.

“If people go back to their home country after attending Crankworx saying ‘Whistler is this amazing place’, that is really invaluable marketing,” said Juryn.

“It is important that we take advantage of Whistler’s reputation. We have a head start, but we need to beware of complacency,” he said.

Juryn hails from Shore Events in North Vancouver and has been a main player in the local mountain biking scene. His resume includes work on Crankworx, the Whistler Mountain Bike Festival, Whistler Summer Gravity Festival, and the World Mountain Bike Conference.

Juryn’s talk at the chamber luncheon was preceded by a presentation from Ian Dunn, director of marketing services for Tourism Whistler.

During his presentation, Dunn shared the latest research on Whistler’s mountain biking market. Some key points he discussed included that over one-third of mountain bike enthusiasts have an income over $100,000 and the largest age group is 30-39 years old.

The presentations by Juryn and Dunn are part of a series of recent efforts Whistler has taken to address the potential economic benefits of mountain biking.

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