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Crankworx 2023 generated nearly $30M for Whistler

More than 300K people attended the mountain-bike festival over its 10 days this summer
Crankworx Whistler 2023 welcomed more than 300,000 attendees to the resort over its 10 days this summer.

After several lean years at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Crankworx Whistler, North America’s premier mountain bike festival, was back in full force in 2023, generating close to $30 million within the resort and attracting more than 300,000 attendees over its 10 days this summer.

Sport Tourism Canada released the results of its study this week analyzing the economic impact of Crankworx Whistler, which found the July event generated $50.7 million in economic activity in Canada, adding $40.8 million to B.C.’s GDP, and $29.6 million for Whistler.

Compared to 2015, the last time a similar study was completed, it is clear just how big a piece of Whistler’s tourism pie Crankworx, and by extension, mountain biking, has become. That year, the festival generated $16.1 million in economic activity for Canada, $13.7 million for B.C., and $8.6 million for Whistler.

In 2015, the event supported $8.9 million in wages and salaries and 163 jobs, of which, 123 jobs and $6.4 million in wages and salaries were supported locally. This summer, Crankworx supported $26.3 million in wages and salaries through 586 jobs, 523 of which were within Whistler, along with $21.2 million in wages and salaries.

Even with the strong numbers, the festival isn’t quite out of the woods just yet, explained Darren Kinnaird, managing director of Crankworx Events Inc.

“I wouldn’t say we’re fully recovered. We’re still seeing the impacts of a roller-coaster economy. There are still the waves, post-pandemic. I think inflation is a big thing, still,” he said.

After the pandemic fuelled a biking boom, demand for gear and hard-to-find parts hit an all-time high, flooding the market. Years later, and bike manufacturers and retail shops are still flush with product, but seeing nowhere near the same demand.

“It’s this way for many industries, waiting for things to settle down,” Kinnaird added. “With every passing month, things get better.”

Sport Tourism Canada’s report also shed light on the makeup and spending habits of Crankworx guests. Total reported attendance over the course of the festival was 301,460, with 37 per cent of attendees from the Sea to Sky, 23.7 per cent from the U.S., and 21.8 per cent hailing from other international destinations. More than half of attendees—55 per cent—were Canadian, and 12 per cent of those Canadian visitors reportedly came from outside of B.C.

A vast majority of out-of-town guests—87 per cent—stayed in Whistler overnight, averaging 5.2 nights during the festival. Fifty-one per cent of attendees indicated Crankworx was the key deciding factor in visiting Whistler, while 76 per cent said the event influenced their motivation to visit the resort.

On average, $1,659 was spent per party attending Crankworx, which included accommodation, restaurants and bars, entertainment, retail, and transportation.

Over the years, Crankworx has evolved into not only the centrepiece of Whistler’s summer events calendar, but the largest event of the entire year from an economic standpoint, said Barrett Fisher, president and CEO of Tourism Whistler, which commissioned the study alongside Crankworx Events Inc.

“You could arguably say Crankworx is Whistler’s most iconic event. It’s certainly a pillar of our summer calendar, and from an economic impact perspective, it would be Whistler’s largest event in both winter and summer,” she explained. “It certainly has grown over the years, attracted more sponsors and high-profile athletes, and has put Whistler on the map from a mountain biking perspective.”

Crankworx’s local growth follows a similar trendline as the sport of mountain biking itself. According to Tourism Whistler’s polling data, in 2016, roughly 28 per cent of visitors surveyed said they went mountain biking while here. By 2022, that figure had hit a high of 39 per cent, Fisher said.
“We recognize some fluctuations in the data, but the trendline between 2016 and 2022 continued to grow. It’s hard to know what all the variables are that influence that,” she said. “Certainly, mountain biking is an important part of our visitors’ experience when they come to Whistler.”

Looking ahead to the future of Crankworx, Kinnaird said organizers are excited to build on this year’s first-ever downhill event held in Creekside, as well as the addition, announced this month, of women to the slopestyle event for the 2024 festival.

“The reaction to that has been overwhelmingly positive,” he said. “To be able to have women competing at the highest level of this event at Crankworx is something we’ve been dreaming about and trying to [accomplish] now for years. To finally have it happening is very exciting.”

The next Crankworx Whistler is scheduled for July 20 to 28, 2024. Learn more at