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Bike park attracting international attention

Freight Train expected to be run away hit with riders next year

So the bike park is closed for another year and according to everyone, particularly the lucky few who escaped the park unscathed, it was "just sick" and there isn’t much Whistler-Blackcomb could do to make it better.

"Talked to anybody, that park is renowned as the most forward piece of bike park anywhere," said Sean Dinwoodie from Fanatyk Co.

"It’s helped us get international coverage… Marzocchi (suspension specialists) were here for two months worth of weekends with a tent at the bottom of the hill; no one else gets that kind of coverage.

"I guess they could make it better if they made it bigger."

The good news is Whistler-Blackcomb has already started work on a number of new trails but one in particular, Freight Train, is expected to be a big feature next year.

The most popular trail in the bike park is A-line and according to bike park manager Tom Prochazka, Freight Train will be similar to A-line except it’s going to have 150 to 200 hits on it and it starts at the top of the Garbanzo chair lift – 4800 feet above the village.

"We always had a plan to do that (Freight Train) but it takes a lot of money so it’s been on the backburner for a while," said Prochazka.

He said Freight Train was also an initiative to get more people using the Garbanzo lift.

"Our expectations for Garbanzo were pretty high this year, we were hoping they’d be lining up to ride Garbanzo, but that didn’t happen.

"A lot of people have been telling us we need something like A-line up there, so that’s the style of trail we’re making. But just to build a trail like that is $120,000, so it’s not small potatoes, but we need to do things like this for our customers."

While most Canadian mountain bikers would understand why the park is so successful, Prochazka and Bike Park Director Rob McSkimming said the venue has also attracted the attention of many international resorts.

"We have people from all over the world coming here to check this park out," said Prochazka.

McSkimming said Whistler-Blackcomb had been hosting executives from resorts in France, Italy and Austria who all wanted to know about the park.

"We’ve had people from Les Gets (France), Livigno (Italy), Sallbach (Austria) and they’ve all been here within the last 10 days," said McSkimming.

"It was pretty full-on all summer long too, with people visiting from North American resorts."

He added that, despite the rain that drenched the Sea to Sky corridor for a month in June, visits to the bike park were up 25 per cent over last year.

"We had 75,000 rider visits this year, which is about 25 per cent up on last year," he said.

Crankworx was the biggest event this year but McSkimming said his highlight was the Boneyard Bike Jam, because it gave so many teenagers a chance to show their skills.

"The Boneyard Jam is such a cool event, it’s got 52 competitors in it and the biggest category is the 13 to 15 year olds, so when you’re seeing some of those young riders they were kicking everybody’s butt.

"That event really opened my eyes to what the future of the sport could be."