Mountain bike festival a success 

Aside from some rain on Sunday and a few first-year bugs, the inaugural Whistler Mountain Bike Festival last weekend was a success according to event organizer Richard Juryn of Shore Events.

"The first year is always the toughest year for an event. We had some problems getting timing together and there were a few delays getting events off on time, but overall we’ve had nothing but positive feedback on the weekend, it was great," he said.

"The people at Whistler-Blackcomb, and the municipality and Tourism Whistler were very supportive and we were very well looked after. They challenged us to do certain things, and judging by their reaction I think we passed the test."

Huge crowds of spectators gathered in the village to watch the freeride challenge, bike toss, and village criterium on Saturday, and to enjoy the expo area at the base of the Whistler Mountain. The trial riding demonstrations by the Baia brothers were also extremely popular.

Sunday’s Enduro didn’t have much in the way of crowds, but with the rain Juryn wasn’t surprised that the village was empty.

The events themselves were well attended with more than 170 riders in the freeride competition, and solid first year turn-outs in the village criterium and Enduro. The kids’ criterium was huge with almost a hundred kids, and the men’s solo categoryin the Enduro alone had 15 riders.

In addition to the timing, there were some last-minute insurance issues that prevented kids younger than 13 from entering the freeride competition, and meant that kids under 16 had to go around certain obstacles on the course. "It was too bad, because there were a lot of kids out that really wanted to race. We’ll know better for next year and really try to get everybody involved."

One of the high-points of the weekend according to Juryn was the involvement of national team riders Alison Sydor, Geoff Kabush, Trish Sinclair and Andreas Hestler, all of whom who donated their own time to ride with the kids in the village criterium and to compete in the criterium afterwards.

Another high point, he said, was the involvement of Whistler junior James Crowe in all three events. He was third in the freeride, and with his father Eric, second in their division in the Enduro.

Next year Juryn plans to make the event event bigger, stretching the events out over three days. "I think one of the things we learned is that we probably shouldn’t have tried to run the freeride contest and the village criterium on the same day. It’s too hectic."

He also plans to talk to local business about the village criterium to see if businesses inside the island created by the race course were adversely affected by the race, and to look at ways to better accommodate their needs in the future.

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