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Sponsors, details for snowboard worlds finalized soon

Major announcements about January world championships expected in November

The organizers of January’s FIS Snowboard World Championships are weeks away from announcing the major sponsors for the nine-day event, which includes five World Championship snowboard competitions and a festival including pro snowboard events, concerts and other attractions.

The amount of sponsorship available will ultimately determine how big those concerts, attractions and side events will be, says Mark Taylor of IMG, which is in charge of producing the festival.

"We definitely expect some new announcements fairly quickly… in the next week to 10 days when we have the contracts signed," said Taylor.

"The business of organizing this event will be determined by our total revenue projections. We’re not looking to extract profits from the event… what we will do is put additional funding back into programming, building the content so we can book higher level bands and so forth.

"We do have a base level we’re going to deliver, on top of the world championship competitions. We’ve built a halfpipe on Blackcomb, we’re going to run five events, the opening and closing ceremonies. But there’s a whole range of what we can do in music, the kinds of grandstands we can build, and with the whole infrastructure and set-up."

Taylor says there will be sponsors in every category, such as an automotive sponsor, a financial sponsor, a telecommunications sponsor, and a beer sponsor.

With the entire NHL season in limbo due to a lockout and player’s strike, Taylor says potential sponsors are showing a lot of interest in the event.

"We’ve been able to take advantage of that, there’s a lot of money in hockey, and companies are looking for other avenues, other winter sports to invest in," said Taylor.

At the same time, sponsors with global appeal are more of a target than Canadian companies, with broadcasters planning to show the event in more than 100 countries around the world.

John Rae, the manager of strategic alliances for the municipality is also the RMOW’s representative at the world championships planning table. Working with representatives from Whistler-Blackcomb, Tourism Whistler, and the Canadian Snowboard Federation, Rae says the preparations are coming along well.

"It’s the touches, the festival that surrounds the athletic event that will be impacted by budgetary decisions, by sponsorship. We have a pretty good handle on the things that are going to happen one way or another, we have most considerations pretty much in place," said Rae.

"We’ve been working on the event for a year and a half to two years, but we won’t be able to put on the finishing touches until we know where we stand with sponsorship, and that won’t happen for a few weeks."

The planning will take place through the event, but most of the financial details will probably be worked out by early November to give sponsors enough time to prepare.

According to Taylor, the organizers are also working on a tribute to Line Oestvold of Norway, a world champion snowboarder who died in September after a training mishap for World Cup snowboard cross in Valle Nevado, Chile. Line reportedly caught a toe-edge on a technical section of the course, and hit her head on the snow. She passed away three days later, never recovering consciousness.

"We are going to have a tribute, probably during the snowboard cross, once we determine what her family would like. We’re consulting with them and with her friends on the circuit," said Taylor. "It’s important for us to get that right, I know it means a lot to the organizers and the athletes."

The 2005 World Snowboard Championships take place from Jan. 15 to 23 in Whistler, with halfpipe, snowboard cross, giant slalom, parallel giant slalom and big air disciplines. There will also be a pro invitational slopestyle and a pro invitational rail jam, as well as concerts and other attractions to be announced.

The world championships are held ever two years, before and after the Olympics. This year rankings at the world championships will count towards qualifying for the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy.

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