Revelstoke Mountain Resort is expecting a big boost in exposure with the merging of the Freeskiing and Freeride World Tours in Revelstoke this year.
“With Swatch Freeride coming on this year, we’re almost doubling the impact from a media exposure standpoint,” said the resort’s marketing manager Kevin Manuel. “We get that presence in Europe as well now and that’s pretty substantial.”
The merger was announced shortly before Christmas when the two competing tours reached an agreement that will see them jointly host the Canadian Freeskiing Championships in Revelstoke this year before moving towards a full merge in 2013. It will also see snowboarding added to the Revelstoke event.
The Europe-based Freeride World Tour has generally been considered the bigger of the two tours, with more prize money available and competitions on bigger terrain in the Alps. The Freeskiing World Tour hosts events in the Americas and is regarded as being smaller but more easy going.
The Canadian Freeskiing Championships, the third stop on this year’s Freeskiing World Tour, kicks off on Wednesday, Jan. 4 with the several athletes meeting with students at local schools and an opening party at the Traverse.
The competition itself kicks off the next day, with the skiing qualifiers. Day one of the competition is on Jan. 6, the snowboarding event on Jan. 7 and the skiing finals on Jan. 8. There are three days being set aside in case of weather.
What benefit does the event provide to Revelstoke? According to Thom Tischik, the head of the Revelstoke Accommodation Association, the event doesn’t provide a significant bump in terms of heads-in-beds when it takes place.
“What we feel is the long-term exposure is of a greater asset than what we get out of the short-term,” he said.
Last week he sent out an e-mail to the association’s members asking how they do for bookings during the event. RAA signed a three year sponsorship agreement for the tour and provides some free rooms for event organizers and media. The agreement expires this year.
The resort looks at things in much the same way. The benefits of the competition in terms of visitors and dollars are difficult to measure, said Manuel.
“The big win we take out of it is the exposure on the media side of things,” he said. “We get significant exposure in markets we either have a limited presence in or it’s difficult for us to get that reach.”
The competition comes at a slow time in the winter, after the busy holiday season, and people don’t seem to be planning their vacations around it, but they might read about the event of watch videos of it online and plan a trip to Revelstoke for later in the winter, Manuel said.
With the merger of the two tours, he sees this as a way for the resort to greatly increase its exposure in Europe. “I’m incredibly excited about it,” he said. “I think it’s a huge opportunity for awareness for Revelstoke as well as the resort itself. It’s tricky for us to get a presence in Europe without spending a lot of money and this is a great way to do it.”
Similarly, the addition of snowboarding is expected to attract more big mountain riders to RMR and build on the momentum created last year when Brain Farm Cinema and Absinthe Films shot film segments here.
The list of skiers coming to this year’s tour is an impressive one. The 25 top skiers from each tour are pre-qualified for the competition. They include the 11 top ranked women from last year’s Freeski World Tour, defending Freeski men’s champion Drew Tabke, nine of the top skiers from last year’s Freeride tour.
Among the notable names are Angel Collinson and Drew Tabke, who took the overall titles in last year’s Freeski World Tour; Aurelien Ducroz, who won the men’s title on the Freeride World Tour; Henrik Winstedt, Kye Peterson, Janina Kuzma, Jess McMillan and Guerlain Chicherit. The most notable absentee is Lars Chickering-Ayers, who won the event last year and finished runner-up in the overall Freeski standings.
Revelstoke will be represented by Leah Evans and Nicole Derksen, who are both pre-qualified. Evans won the Revelstoke event last year while Derksen finished fourth overall. There are 10 other local skiers participating in the competition. See page 10 for more on them.
For the snowboarding event, 12 riders from the Freeride World Tour will join 12 riders from the North Face Masters. Anne-Flore Marxer and Mitch Toelderer, the men and women’s defending champions from the Freeride event will be in attendance, while Maria DeBari, who won the Masters tour last year will also be in Revelstoke.
Off the slopes there are numerous events taking place as well. Back this year is Retro Movie Night, which also serves as a fundraiser for the Canadian Avalanche Rescue Dog Association. This year’s movie is Aspen Extreme.
There are also lots of bands playing at various venues around town, including Shred Kelly, Scott Anderson, Redfish, Wheelhouse and the Maritime Kitchen Party.
The winners will be given their awards at a ceremony in Grizzly Plaza once the event wraps up.