Let the Pemberton Games begin 

Inaugural Pemberton Games features Extreme Explorations Film Festival and documentary premiere


What: Pemberton Games' Extreme Explorations film festival

When: Sunday, May 23 to Friday, May 28

Where: New Pemberton Community Centre, Pony Espresso (check schedule for locations)

Cost: $12 suggested donation at the door, $10 in advance

Just when you thought the Sea to Sky region was safely out of the Games-related woods, there's another week of fun headed to the area in the form of the Pemberton Games.

The event is being organized by Peter Chrzanowski, a longtime adventure sport filmmaker who has been in and out of the Sea to Sky region, traveling and studying since the late '80s, though he recently settled down and built a house in Pemberton.

"It's really a lot simpler than it seems: we all have these fringe sports that we do and on their own it's really hard for us to get sponsorship and attention, and I think now, after the Olympics, the world is really looking at Whistler and here, and we have all these tourism possibilities."

Now, he wants to look beyond the mainstream activities like biking and kayaking and introduce people to the more obscure activities, like speedriding, skydiving, base jumping, kiting and paragliding.

"I just thought, 'Wow, this is the best weekend, there are probably 2,500 people up here anyway. If we give them a few things to do at night and a few things to do during the day, we'll just peg that date as a festival date.'"

In future years, Chrzanowski hopes the Pemberton Games will become an annual event, akin to the popular Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival and Kokanee Crankworx events, attracting larger sponsors and offering prizes to athletes and filmmakers.

"There's going to be a lot of speculation in Pemberton and rather than an open pit mine or another logging project or another B.C. Hydro project or asphalt factory or something, let's give this eco-tourism a kick!"

The idea is that the event will become a long-term tourism draw for the area.

"It's a different crowd. I think the Pemberton Music Festival was a crowd that comes and spends money and it's all great, but they leave and they don't necessarily keep coming back to do other things. I think if people actually come and enjoy and participate in the sport, they are the people that are going to come back with their family and friends."

Of course, the passionate paraglider wants to raise the profile of his sport, at the same time.

"People know so little about it; there are 500 people that fly in Canada, 60,000 in France, 25,000 in Germany, and 13,000 in the Czech Republic," he said.

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