Last month’s announcement that several end-of season events would be combined in a World Ski Festival on both Blackcomb and Whistler Mountains raises a question: are there too many events happening in Whistler for people to care about all of them? The concept is good, combining the World Technical Ski Championships, the Masters Championships, the Whistler Cup International Juvenile races and the Couloir Ski Race Extreme with snowboarding events, concerts and ski industry shows. The first four are significant events that, on their own, probably haven’t generated as much interest as they deserve. A large part of the reason for that is that they come at the end of the ski season, when most media, and the general public, have had enough of skiing and are preparing for the summer. By making all the events part of a festival there should be greater interest. The question is whether there will be enough sponsorship interest; lack of sponsorship apparently being one of the factors in the decision not to hold the World Technical Championships last month. But sponsorship aside, perhaps it’s time for the people of Whistler to take a hard look at the events that take place here. What is the purpose or goal behind some events? Is it for the benefit of locals or visitors? What will it cost Whistler to have the event here? Is it an international event or a local/regional event? Presumably the major benefit of bringing international events to Whistler, such as the Eco-Challenge announced last week or the freestyle and alpine World Cups, is to provide exposure for Whistler. There are also economic spin-offs and other, less-tangible benefits. Local or regional events are usually smaller in scale and are primarily for the benefit of participants and people in the valley. They are, in a sense, "community" events. The sheer volume of events now in Whistler means people have to choose which ones they want to get involved in or contribute to — and nearly all of them could use contributions and volunteer help. It may be time for a more co-ordinated approach to events in Whistler, but without stifling the creative — and entrepreneurial — spirit that drives many event organizers. Regardless of how well last weekend's Traverse race was or wasn't organized, it introduced competitors to and got others thinking about the backcountry. That's something that might not happen if the planning of events was left strictly to one person or one body. There should be room for new ideas. But at the same time the community might be well served if it indicated what type of events it was willing to get behind and at what time of year. The proliferation of events is watering down the experience.

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