WSSF hopes to shed light on Whistler’s soul 

As it enters its eighth year the festival continues to grow and bring people to Whistler, injecting $14 million into local economy

Everyone in Whistler has a tale to tell, and there is no doubt some of them are tall.

This year the organizers of the Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival decided the stories of Whistler needed to be heard and celebrated.

They are stories of human drama, of triumph and of defeat and the hope is that they will offer a glimpse of Whistler’s soul.

"We are putting the spotlight on great journalists and storytellers," said Doug Perry former professional skier, founder of the festival and president of W1 the sports, entertainment and production agency that manages and operates the Telus WSSF.

This year’s legendary word smiths are the Pique’s own G.D. Maxwell, Leslie Anthony, Michel Beaudry, Peter Oliver and Susan Reifer.

There is no doubt that as the festival grows each year the art and cultural component continues to expand and venture into new mediums.

"(The festival) is for the young and the young at heart and it is inspired by the mountain resort lifestyle," said Perry.

"It is entertainment. But it is much more than just a ski and snowboard competition now."

It all started as a dream to hold a ski and snowboard event that would push the limits of the sports.

Eight years later the Telus WSSF is not only the place to watch on-hill talent shred the boundaries of their calling, it is the largest free concert series in the country and a showcase for mountain culture unlike any other.

"Whatever you see here in April is really leading edge," said Perry.

"All the participants are looking for is to be listened to and have a forum to do the things they have always wanted to do, and that is really what the essence of the festival is."

The formula is a winner all round for the festival, which starts today and runs through April 20.

Not only do the spectators love it, the industry loves it and so does Whistler, which has come to depend on the festival to keep its businesses busy in a traditionally slow period between the end of Spring Break and the Easter long-weekend.

Perry, who describes the corporate sponsored budget for the festival as top secret, estimates that the event pours $14 million into the resort and attracts up to 250,000 people.

"It is significant," he said.

Not only does the event draw spectators of its own, industry conferences are held in conjunction with it and unsuspecting tourists get the show of a lifetime.

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