Crankworx numbers up 

Results still coming in but bike festival a measured success

The organizers of the 2009 Crankworx freeride mountain bike festival will spend weeks and months collecting data, everything from hotel room bookings to the response from bike magazines.

Based on early indicators and anecdotal evidence, however, it was the busiest year for the festival yet - despite the weak economy, passport requirements and other factors contributing to a general drop in tourism.

"Everything we've heard from the hotels is good. They're saying it was the highest occupancy of the summer," said Crankworx manager Jeremy Roche. "If you were looking for a room on Saturday, Aug. 15 (the night of the slopestyle contest) you were definitely out of luck because occupancy was quite significant.

"We're still waiting for the final numbers to roll in but I can say that we were trying to find rooms for sponsors, media and whatnot at the last minute and it was a real challenge."

The Whistler Mountain Bike Park broke the rider records it set at Crankworx 2008, with thousands of people using the park every day. More significantly, there were two rainy days during Crankworx 2009, and no rain over nine days in 2008.

Feedback from the event's sponsors has also been extremely positive, says Roche, while Volkswagen - the sponsor of the VW Trick Showdown - conducted a survey of festival-goers during the week and said it would share that information with Crankworx.

The slopestyle event was one of the best-attended events in Whistler history, with a reported 20,000 people in the village and on the side of the slopestyle course to watch the contest. However, Roche believes that up to five times as many people tuned into the online slopestyle broadcast at www.go211.com. Hard numbers are not available but Roche has heard that online viewership was up for all of the events.

As well, people flocked to the Crankworx website on Sunday to watch an edited video of the slopestyle, and to date the video has been viewed 70,000 times.

But while the event was a success, Roche says they are already discussing ways to improve on the festival next year.

"We're in the middle of a debrief with staff, sponsors and athletes, and we already have ideas cooked up for next year," he said. "We are always looking for new things and things we can improve on. We have the events we do every year, but there's still room to be a little creative like we did with the Canadian Open Enduro event. All of our side events went pretty well, like the Block Party, the Deep Summer Photo Challenge and the Deraylor Music Festival. There's always more we can do, but each one of the events had positive aspects to it and I think in a lot of ways we're on the right track."

Roche also has meetings with the municipality and the RCMP to look at things like garbage cleanup and security.

Overall the RCMP were happy with the festival, although they did hand out several tickets for open alcohol in the crowd. However, there were no major incidents.

"It was a good event, there were no major issues and the issues we did see seemed to be later in the evening after people were in the bars for a while," said Sergeant Steve Wright of the Whistler RCMP. "There were a lot of people out and about, I think more than we even anticipated. This was the fourth Crankworx for me, and it was by far the busiest for us in those four years."

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