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Near-record year for WSSF

Festival organizers looking for public input at July meeting

By Andrew Mitchell

It took a few months to collect reports and crunch the numbers, but the organizers of the Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival (TWSSF) have done the math and are reporting a high satisfaction rate from visitors, near-record visitor numbers, and solid projections for next year.

According to surveys taken during the festival, 97 per cent of respondents enjoyed the festival, while 80 per cent said it was “likely” or “very likely” that they will return next year.

All but one of the festival’s cultural events sold out this year, and the fashion show was close to selling out. The lottery for athletes entering sports events also sold out, ensuring full fields in all of the qualifier competitions, and huge crowds turned out to both the village big air contests and the rail jam. The free concerts also attracted huge crowds, despite some wet and cold weather, and featured international acts like Sam Roberts and Toots and the Maytals.

“It was the second largest non-Easter Festival on record, after 2002,” said festival managing director Sue Eckersley, taking into account the larger crowds that come when the Easter holidays overlap the festival. As well, the international Mountain Travel Symposium was held in Whistler on both record non-Easter years, 2002 and 2007.

“We saw a 17.6 per cent increase in hotel bookings for the festival period over (2006), making it the largest single year increase in recorded festival history.

No doubt the festival’s numbers were buoyed by the large spring snowpack, as 2006-07 was the second snowiest on record for the resort, with close to 15 metres, or 46 feet, of snow falling from November through to April.

The TWSSF planners are holding open meetings in July to get feedback on the festival from the community, and outline the long-term plans for continuing to grow and evolve the festival through the long term. Dates will be announced in the coming weeks.

2007 TWSSF Facts and Figures

• More than 50 free concerts including Sam Roberts, K’naan, Stephen Marley and Jr. Gong, Toots and Maytals, Buck 65, Finger 11, Alison Crowe and Animal Nation.

• Over 400 members of the international media, from15 different countries, attended. The marketing value of the media is estimated at $7 million. Forty-five accredited film and television crews were on hand.

• More than 200 athletes took part in two big air contests, the urban rail jam, the superpipe and Stompede slopestyle.

• Over $5,000 donated to local charities, Whistler Animals Galore, Zero Ceiling and the Association of Whistler Area Residents for the Environment.

• The 72-hour Filmmaker Showdown attracted 78 teams, 64 of which got their movies in on time. The first prize package was worth $15,000.

• A record 145 dogs in the annual WAG dog parade.