News » Whistler

WSSF to fly without Easter

by

comment

World Snowboarding Championships goes south

With Easter taking place in March this year, both Whistler-Blackcomb and event organizers are hoping that the World Ski and Snowboard Festival will continue to be a successful tourist draw in April. A major marketing campaign is already being planned for this winter to get the word out.

"This year, more than ever, WSSF will be an important economic driver for April as Easter falls in March," says Barrett Fisher, vice-president of marketing strategy and business development for Tourism Whistler. "The combined efforts and support of the community and the presenting partners are imperative to the festival’s success, which will in turn ensure a strong April."

In recent years, the WSSF has been held on Easter weekend, which is traditionally a busy time for the resort. Although the WSSF events have been a popular draw since their inception in 1996, some regarded the recent success of the festival as a coincidence and questioned whether businesses and the community should assume any of the costs, such as extra policing for the Big Air competition.

"We’ve made a lot of headway in that direction, and have opened up the lines of communication with the municipality, for example," says Doug Perry, president of W1, the company organizing the WSSF. "After discussion, people are realizing that this festival is really important to everyone. All the stakeholders are showing unbelievable support for the festival, as is the rest of the community this year.

"We’re not a third party coming into town, the WSSF was born in this town, it lives in this town, and we want everyone to feel a part of it."

According to W1’s research, the WSSF is responsible for approximately $10 million in tourist dollars. Of the tourists interviewed during previous festivals, 16.9 per cent said they were in Whistler purely for the WSSF, and 37.1 per cent named the WSSF as one of the key reasons they made the trip.

On Nov. 9, Telus Communications announced that it would continue to be the title sponsor of the WSSF, and signed a multi-year sponsorship deal to that effect.

"We are absolutely delighted with our continued support of the Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival," says Roy Osing, executive vice president and chief Marketing officer at Telus. "This event has grown into a truly national program that is now the benchmark and envy of ski resorts world-wide. It further complements one of our marketing objectives to reach a youthful, active demographic both in the regional and national markets."

In addition to their role as the title sponsor of the WSSF for the past three years, Telus is also a major supporter of the Whistler-Blackcomb Foundation, the Vancouver Whistler 2010 Olympic Bid, and through the bid, the Legacies Now Telus Whistler Sport Centre.

Whistler-Blackcomb also believes that the WSSF is a valuable event for the mountains and Whistler as a whole. According to Stuart Rempel, vice president of marketing and sales for Whistler-Blackcomb, "The Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival is a true success story. Over the past seven years, the event has developed into an inseparable part of Whistler-Blackcomb’s spring skiing and riding scene, which has made this resort the place to be in April."

Festival staff are already working on enlisting sponsors for the 2002 WSSF, which will take place from April 12 to 21. A multi-channel advertising campaign is also being launched in target markets of Vancouver, Seattle, Calgary, Toronto and California.

The 2002 festival will be similar to previous events with a few notable changes and additions.

Snowboarding Championships heading to American resort

The Sims-sponsored World Snowboarding Championships – an invitational contest with halfipipe, quarterpipe, slopestyle, jib park and big air events and a $250,000 U.S. prize purse – is moving south this year to a location still to be announced. The Familie, an athlete-driven production company that also represents many of the top names in board sports, has signed on to produce the 2002 World Snowboarding Championships.

A similar event, the World Snowboarding Invitational, will be taking its place as part of the WSSF from April 12 to 14 showcasing a similar range of events.

Although organizers are still looking at the different options available, "we are absolutely going to include a big air in the village," says Perry. "Judging by the crowd and the feedback, that’s definitely in the format."

A jam format contest will also take place in the Superpipe on Blackcomb, where competitors can take as many judged runs as they want in a given time period.

The popular Pro Photographer Search and Showdown will return again this year, and will be followed by a new Filmaker Showdown.

Other WSSF features include the World Snowmobiling Contest, which will be held April 17 and 18 in the village, demo days, skateboard and BMX demos, the all-night dance party, movie premiers, and the World Skiing Invitational April 19-21.

WSSF organizers are looking for strong community support for the festival to ensure that it is successful.

"From day one, the festival has always relied on feedback from athletes, photographers, and the industry to ensure that we’re listening to our audiences. The community is no different," says Perry. "We’re inviting members of the community to provide input or suggestions about any aspect of the WSSF via the ‘Feedback’ section on our Web site (www.wssf.com). Plus, the door to our office is always open."

According to Perry, the format for the World Snowboarding Championships was created by an 18-member "style council" of industry representatives and athletes.

"We had 18 people on a conference call, kind of a round table thing, and everybody got to say what they wanted to do, and discussed what would work and what wouldn’t. It was one of the most exciting things I’ve ever been involved in."

There have been subsequent Style Council’s for the World Skiing Invitational and Pro Photographer Showdown. Opening a similar discussion with the community over the WSSF was the next logical step.

A number of "community think tanks" will also be held in the months leading up to the WSSF to gather community feedback. If you’re interested in attending these meetings, contact W1 at 604-938-3399.

W1 created from RCG split

What goes around comes around. Although it has changed names and alliances over the years, the new W1 is really just another incarnation of the World Sports Group, founded by Doug Perry in 1993 to create and promote events – notably the Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival, which made its debut in 1996.

W1 was established in June of 2001 when Resort Communications Group (RCG), the previous producer of the WSSF, was split into two distinct groups; W1, which is run by Perry, and Whistler Resort TV, which is run by Don McQuaid.

W1 represents the unification of several "world" branded events under the direction of one management company:

• The World Technical Skiing Championships, which Doug Perry began in 1993;

• The World Ski and Snowboard Festival, which was the first ever joint marketing initiative between the Whistler Mountain Ski Corporation, Blackcomb Skiing Enterprises and the Whistler Resort Association (now Whistler-Blackcomb and Tourism Whistler);

• The World Skiing Invitational and the World Snowboarding Invitational.

World Sports Group took a break when Perry co-developed RCG in 1999, but is back under the W1 title. The team includes a number of professional contractors, including people who have been with the WSSF from the beginning.

"This core team is the driving force behind the contagious energy of the Festival," says Perry. "Each person brings their own unique strengths and experience to WSSF, and the collaboration and synergy of the group ensure the event’s ongoing growth and success. It’s the best event team in the business."

The main focus of the group will remain the WSSF, although W1’s focus includes "some other major U.S. event initiatives," says Perry.