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world cup

Although the FIS has made a 10-year commitment to Whistler the World Cup isn’t coming here until Whistler is guaranteed some marketing rights from the European company that bought those rights from Alpine Canada. David Perry, Whistler Mountain’s director of marketing, travelled to Quebec City two weeks ago and negotiated a hand-shake deal that would give the W5 group 30 per cent of the marketing rights to the races, but he hasn’t heard anything since then. "We’ve still got some balls in the air with this one," he said this week. The latest twist in the convoluted negotiations to make a men’s World Cup downhill and super G an annual event at Whistler came when it was discovered Alpine Canada had sold all the marketing rights to World Cup races in Canada to Halva, an Italian company. Halva has aggressively been buying up TV and marketing rights for World Cup races around the world. Although the W5 group — the Whistler Resort Association, Whistler Mountain, the municipality, the Chamber of Commerce and the Vancouver Ski Foundation — has been trying to negotiate a deal with Alpine Canada for months, and had expressed in writing that they need 30 per cent of the marketing rights to make the event work, it only recently came to light that Alpine Canada had sold everything to Halva. Halva is represented in Canada by Bill Webster, the former president of Alpine Canada. "They own the marketing rights, but they own 100 per cent of nothing if there’s no race," said Perry, adding the W5 group won’t accept "working for a salary." The W5 group wants to build a whole season-opening festival around the World Cup race. The group is modelling its approach after the Vail Valley Foundation, which has built a festival around the Vail World Cup races and makes money off the event. That money is used for scholarships, arts performances and various other community benefits. The W5 group wants to do the same thing with the Whistler World Cup. "Alpine Canada signed a deal with Halva that didn’t consider the needs of the Whistler organizing committee," Perry said. "The Alpine Canada guys truly thought they’d signed a good deal — it was more money than they’d ever seen — even though the W5 group had stated in writing we need 30 per cent." Perry met with Halva’s Tito Giovanini for eight hours in Quebec City and worked out a joint marketing plan that would give the W5 group 30 per cent of the first $1 million and 50 per cent of any money above that. Giovanini indicated a written agreement would be finalized by April 15 but Perry has heard nothing from him since then and is getting concerned. The ironic part of the whole deal is that everyone wants a World Cup race in Whistler. In fact, the FIS would like Whistler to host men’s and women’s downhills. Whistler is also worth more to Halva, and therefore to Alpine Canada, in terms of generating sponsor revenue. Traditionally it has cost about $660,000 to put on the World Cup races in late February or early March. However, with the move to a December date costs will go up, which leads to the other hurdle the W5 still has to overcome: $3 million is needed for infrastructure, including snow making, cable for television and some course improvements. Councillor Max Kirkpatrick is working on finding someone willing to loan the group the money. Bill McNeney of the W5 group said last week the group is committed to putting in the snowmaking and cable, even though the money has yet to be found. "From the point of view of infrastructure we said we’d go ahead."