Whistler prepares for 2005 snowboard world championships 

Venues move downhill to Base II

It’s still more than 14 months away, but for the organizers of the 2005 FIS Snowboard World Championships the planning has already begun.

A conference was held in Whistler on Monday to discuss the logistics of the event and tour the venues that will host the competitions. Among the delegates present were representatives from the Federation Internationale de Ski (FIS), the Canadian Snowboard Federation, Whistler-Blackcomb, Tourism Whistler, the municipality, WIGE Media, and MASEV Communications, the event’s producer.

"We basically had to get together and figure out everything in a couple of main a areas, like accommodation, transportation, media, venue locations, so we could start to take next steps," said Lindsay McWilliam, an event and athlete manager at MASEV.

Whistler has held World Cup snowboarding competitions for the past seven years, and the eighth annual event, called SnowScene, is slated for Dec. 11 to 14. The competitions typically take place in the Terrain Park on Blackcomb.

The world championships, which are held every two years and can have a large bearing on Olympic qualifications, are a much bigger event.

"The world championships are secondly only to the Olympics for snowboarders," said McWilliam.

To make the events more accessible to everybody, the venues for the competitions are moving down the mountain, to the Base II area on Blackcomb. The snowboard cross, parallel slalom and parallel giant slalom will take place on the lower part of Mainline, finishing in the Base II area. The big air contest will also be held in the same area.

An in-ground halfpipe will also be built in the summer of 2004. The halfpipe will be located either at the site of the water ramps, if they can be moved, or to skier’s left of the ramps. The halfpipe will have lights and snowmaking and should be open to the public day and night after the contest.

The demonstration slopestyle event will likely still take place in the terrain park.

By moving the event down the mountain, the organizers will be better able to accommodate the more than 400 athletes and team representatives expected from more than 24 countries, as well as more media and spectators. Plans are underway to put a temporary 2,500 seat grandstand at the bottom of the snowboard cross and alpine race events, as well as a viewing gallery for the halfpipe and big air events.

Part of the main parking lot at Base II will be turned into an event staging area with a cafeteria for athletes and officials, tents for volunteers and support services, and a fully functional media centre.

The organizers estimate that the world championships will require 3,400 volunteer shifts.

The event is being regarded as one of several test runs leading up to the Olympics.

MASEV hopes to turn the world championships into a festival, similar to the Snow Scene festival planned around the World Cup events in December. That means concerts, an expo at the base of the mountain, and other attractions for the public.

The world championships will run from Jan. 22 to Jan. 30 in 2005.

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