Whistler, BC, May 6, 2003 — Record crowds flocked to Whistler for this year's TELUS World Ski & Snowboard Festival, defying the static global economy and average season outlook for resorts worldwide.
Initial reports from Whistler Blackcomb indicate the Resort had the busiest third week of April on record — showing that it was the biggest TELUS World Ski & Snowboard Festival in the event's 8-year history.
Festival visitors this year were treated to North America's largest festival of its kind — with the biggest line-up of snowsports competitions, live concerts, visual arts events, and non-stop parties. The snowiest March on record for Whistler Blackcomb also provided excellent spring conditions for skiers and snowboarders.
"Our skier and visitation figures are all the more remarkable when you consider the outside factors that came into play at the time — the war on Iraq, SARS, inclement weather in Vancouver and a less than vibrant global economy. Clearly, the TELUS World Ski & Snowboard Festival was a bright spot in the 2002/03 season, said Rob McSkimming, Managing Director, Ski & Snowboard School and Vice Chair of the TELUS World Ski & Snowboard Festival Board of Directors.
McSkimming said while the Festival continued to push the envelope with snowsports competitions, it was also continually evolving its cultural edge by further expanding the music and arts focus.
"A lot of the Festival buzz is about how amazing the music line-up was, and how the Festival, is in fact, at the centre of what is happening in the arts scene in this community. The emergence of such events as the Filmmaker Showdown and the energy that it created further emphasized this point, McSkimming said.
According to an independent research study commissioned by Festival organizers, the 2003 Festival resulted in a $26m impact on the Resort. The economic impact study is based on analysing the length of stay and individual spending habits of visitors to Whistler who identified the Festival as the primary purpose for their visit during the ten days.
The research also shows the awareness of the TELUS World Ski & Snowboard Festival grows every year, as the Festival reaches out to a wider and growing audience in Canada and internationally. 56 per cent of respondents were Canadian, 20 per cent were from the US and 24 per cent were from other countries.
As the Festival grows, so does the strength of corporate sponsorship. TELUS has been the Title sponsor of the TELUS World Ski & Snowboard Festival for the 5th consecutive year. "We are proud to contribute to the growth and success of the Festival - now the benchmark and envy of resort properties worldwide. In keeping with our customer promise of "The Future is Friendly, the TELUS World Ski & Snowboard Festival clearly has given TELUS an outlet to appeal to one of our fastest growing markets — today's youth and their infatuation with, and insatiable appetite for, new technology. The TELUS World Ski & Snowboard Festival has accomplished more than we could ever have planned through any conventional marketing communications plan, said John Mikkelsen, TELUS Assistant VP of Enterprise Event Marketing.
In addition to the thousands of visitors, athletes, musicians and industry representatives who make the pilgrimage to Whistler every spring, the TELUS World Ski & Snowboard Festival also attracts significant media attention. Close to 340 international journalists, photographers and film crews representing 115 media outlets from 12 different countries attended this year's event.
The Festival will be producing three 30-minute shows to air starting in November 2003 on Global Television and the Xtreme Sports Network for a total of 18 hours nationally and will then be syndicated internationally to over 50 countries.
"The Festival this year has received unprecedented coverage through our marketing and media campaign not only in the snowsports media but also mainstream media and at the street level. Combining this successful campaign together with the actual success of the Festival, this event is now firmly entrenched in calendars throughout the world and is now synonymous with spring, said Festival Chairman Doug Perry.
Reflecting on this year's Festival, Perry said it could no longer be simply regarded as a snowsports event. "It's not just about the sports anymore. The Festival provides an enhanced and enriched experience in action sports by integrating the music and the arts that support it. This is what sets us apart and what we will continue fostering so that this Festival remains unique to the Whistler community.
Look out for the 2004 TELUS World Ski & Snowboard Festival, details for which will be released this summer.
For further information or to provide feedback about the TELUS World Ski & Snowboard Festival, visit the Festival's official website www.livelarge.ca
The 8th TELUS World Ski & Snowboard Festival was a 10-day high-energy event fusing sports, music and action, April 11-20. The Festival highlights included: Ripzone Snowboard Invitational; free DKNY//JEANS LIVE Outdoor Concert Series; Garnier Fructis World Skiing Invitational featuring Salomon Big Air and Superpipe; Pro Photographer Search and Showdown, presented by Sony; Panasonic Filmmaker Showdown; RBC Olympic FanFair and RBC Rink on the Mountain; Super Demo Days; Biglines.com Snow Film Fiesta; Whistler DogFest; Saab Salomon Crossmax Series; Sawtooth Adrenaline Film Festival; Kranked 5; and the Kokanee Freeride.