Getting the word out about Bobsleigh, Skeleton World Cup 

With diminished budgets, organizers for this weekend's event got creative

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This weekend's FIBT Bobsleigh and Skeleton World Cup at the Whistler Sliding Centre will likely draw 1,000 spectators per night say organizers, an impressive number thanks to teamwork from various Whistler agencies with precious little money to spend on promotion.

This compares with up to 4,000 spectators last season, the first following the high profile 2010 Olympic Winter Games, said Patricia Leslie of the centre's operator Whistler Sport Legacies.

"The funding model is a little different this year. It's very limited for what they have for marketing dollars," she said.

"The whole event is structured differently from last year. What WSL has been able to do is leverage a whole bunch of media opportunities."

Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton is hosting the event on behalf of the international bobsleigh federation (FIBT), and program coordinator Nicole Simon said they decided to take out full-page advertising this week rather than for two weeks before.

"We don't have (The Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Games') money anymore to support this stuff so we have to pick and choose where we spend our money," she said.

"We've still been able to get the word out about this weekend and although we won't have a sellout crowd it should still be decent.

"There's less news about these sports in the media now than in the lead up to the Games, so that's part of it. But the sliding centre gets tons of visitors every day and so I know there is a lot of interest out there."

Whistler Sport Legacies was able to help press staff from Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton with "in-kind support" to raise the profile of this weekend's World Cup event.

Leslie said they made it happen with good media management.

"A ton of stuff has been marketed regionally and this week our focus is to drive people to the event that are already here, including locals," she said.

High-profile media events like Whistler mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden zooming around the track in a bobsled with Liberal MP Justin Trudeau and his wife Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau on Jan. 23 also helped. Leslie said such spectacles and other promotions such as competitions brought out national TV news and newspapers, as well as Lower Mainland media and local press.  

As well, future interest in the sliding centre is being banked with the Ladies Skeleton final (Feb.2, 4:30pm), men's skeleton final (Feb.3, 4:30pm), and the men's 4-man bobsleigh final (Feb.4, 5:30pm) being aired on SportsNet.

But the overall lack of funding has been felt. The promotional support is the extent of what they can offer Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton, Leslie said.

"We don't have dollars, we're a non-profit as well. We don't have dollars to buy advertising space... As far as bodies and resources, I'd say Whistler Sports Legacies is doing everything they can to spread the word as much as possible...

"Just because people don't see a newspaper ad it doesn't mean that stuff isn't going on, we do have a full advertising plan in place for it."

A spokeswoman for the Resort Municipality of Whistler said they had not received a request for help from Bobsled Canada Skeleton for this weekend..

"The Luge Canada event that was held in November was a little different (in that they did utilize RMOW promotional assistance)."

Luge is operated by a different body, and requested RMOW assistance before the World Cup races in early December.

Lynn Chappelle, manager of Partnership, Promotions and Events at Tourism Whistler, said that along with selling tickets and sending email notices, TW was organizing media relations to promote the World Cup through the Visitors' Centre.

"All events are important in Whistler and the World Cup adds to the texture and variety of events here," she said.

Simon said Whistler Sport Legacies had always been helpful in terms of use of the sliding centre, but had increased assistance this season with marketing knowhow.

"It can only get better from here now that the right people are in place and we know who to go to."

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