Bike Park sets new opening records 

Although the Whistler Mountain Bike Park was open for the two previous weekends, the official opening on the Victoria Day long weekend set yet another record for the park.

Rob McSkimming, the managing director for sports programming for Whistler-Blackcomb, estimates that the number of bike day visits was up 35 per cent per day compared to last year.

In total, more than 1,600 riders took to the park this past weekend, compared to about 1,000 last year, buoyed by good weather and growing notoriety.

A mix of rain and cold all but closed the park on the holiday Monday in 2002 with just 86 riders. This year there were over 500 bike visits.

"It was a great weekend," said McSkimming. "We’re definitely happy with the numbers, and the weather helped us out a bit as well."

There’s no way to tell where all the bikers were from, but judging by the number of cars with full bike racks leaving town on Monday afternoon, a number of visitors were from the Lower Mainland and Washington.

The park has already sold more than 500 season’s passes for 2003, which is five times as many as were sold at this time last year.

"The word is getting out there. We’re definitely doing more advertising this year, in all of the magazines, we have a presence in the videos that are out this year, and we’re getting some pretty good play from the different Web sites out there. We’re not a household name, but the core riders out there have all heard about the park by now," said McSkimming.

McSkimming also said the Crud to Mud downhill event helped to boost numbers, with attendance for that event up more than 40 per cent over the previous year.

"I predict in a couple of years that event is going to sell out, like the Peak to Valley races," said McSkimming.

The new attractions in the park, including a freeride park at the bottom of the mountain, were also well received. The freeride park is not officially open yet, but was part of an event on Saturday. It should be officially open by next weekend.

Last season the number of riders using the park increased for the fourth year in a row, climbing 60 per cent to more than 46,000 visits.

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