TW: Whistler shines in Olympic broadcasts 

Detailed report tracking media coverage expected in spring

It could be months before Tourism Whistler and its partners are able to actually quantify the quality and quantity of Whistler coverage stemming from the 2010 Games, but some early impressions are quite positive.

Casey Vanden Heuvel, director of communications for Tourism Whistler, said much of the coverage got past the first few days of low-hanging clouds and delayed events to show Whistler at its best.

"The stunning visuals really attracted a ton of coverage for us in the latter part of the Games and we were getting more and more requests to use standups on Whistler as their backdrops," he said. "Especially when the skies cleared up, we did a great deal of international coverage in the last two-thirds of the Games, so (coverage) was very much worldwide in scope."

The standups were locations on Whistler Mountain that were set aside for television crews, complete with the cable connections required to carry the broadcast. As well, Tourism Whistler and Whistler Blackcomb offered broadcasters access to a mountain of "B-Roll" footage, which started to appear in international television broadcasts.

"Having the snow first and then having the skies clear up allowed us to be able to share some pretty stunning visuals," Vanden Heuvel explained. "When we got that into the hands of broadcasters they realized what we had been talking about for months, and it looked better than they could have imagined.

"Even The Colbert Report picked up on that and used it while pretending to be in Whistler."

As well, as the Olympics progressed Vanden Heuvel said more broadcasters started to use Whistler as their backdrops.

"ESPN did quite a bit of live broadcasting out of our village, for example, and once skies cleared up they did live broadcasting from the Roundhouse - which is why we had the standups set up to go live," he said. "It was really the visual that allowed us to open doors and get that Whistler coverage. The stories were fantastic as well, but it was the images that helped us to sell the resort."

Tourism Whistler helped to support over 300 hours of live broadcast from Whistler over their broadcast system at the Whistler Media House, but that was only the tip of the iceberg with television rights holders. Unaccredited media also did a lot of coverage from Whistler that will take a while to measure.

"They wanted to use Whistler stuff because it's a bit more traditional as a winter backdrop to use for the Games," Vanden Heuvel said. "Vancouver was featured in a lot of coverage at the start of the Games, but with the sunny weather there was a lot more of Whistler towards the middle."

There were some concerns at the beginning that the poor weather and low snowpack at Cypress could have a negative impact on potential visitors to Whistler, but Vanden Heuvel said they took steps to ensure that the media knew the difference between Cypress and Whistler, which has had more than 11 metres of snowfall this season.

"We didn't want the 2010 Games painted with a broad brush of these snow concerns, so we worked really hard to promote that and get the message across following the initial reports coming out of Cypress," he said. "The further the coverage was away from the Lower Mainland the less there was a problem in making people understand that there would be a difference between Cypress and Whistler. In the end it was really the visuals of Whistler that won over the broadcasters and got the message out that there were no snow issues in Whistler."

Tourism Whistler, Tourism B.C. and the Canadian Tourism Commission have enlisted trackers to measure the media coverage during the Games. Vanden Heuvel expects a detailed report will be available in the early spring.



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