Tag Archives: Whistler Question

Crankworx Numero Uno

Eighteen years ago the first Crankworx was held in Whistler Village to roaring success. As the Crankworx World Tour is back in town this month we are throwing back to the original Crankworx Mountain Bike Festival, which started in Whistler in 2004.

We cannot talk about the start of Crankworx without first mentioning Joyride and Whistler Summer Gravity Festival. Joyride Bikercross was first organised by Chris Winter and Paddy Kaye in 2001. Four riders simultaneously jockeyed for lead at full speed down the course featuring tight turns and fast jumps. It instantly drew the crowds. Joyride continued in 2002, then was incorporated into the week-long Whistler Gravity Festival in 2003 – combining all the disciplines of gravity-assisted mountain biking including Air Downhill and Slopestyle. In 2004 the Whistler Gravity Festival rebranded to Crankworx.

Crankworx started as a way to pull together all gravity-assisted mountain bike disciplines and events, bringing all the best mountain bikers together. The idea was also to showcase the bike park. Rob McSkimming who was the managing director of Whistler Mountain Bike Park at the time, approached Mark ‘Skip’ Taylor who had experience working on the World Ski and Snowboard Festival. According to Rob in 2004, “Crankworx was designed so we could strive to be on the progressive edge of mountain biking.”

In 2004, Crankworx took place July 22 to 25, with concerts, pro-rider shows and an expo throughout the four days. Events included the Air Downhill along A-Line which was in its third year. The bike park had newly opened the terrain to the top of Garbanzo and the Garbanzo Downhill was another signature event, along with the BC Downhill Championship and the Biker X.

Definitely the most popular for spectators was the slopestyle. The course, which Richie Schley helped design, featured a road gap, wall ride, massive teeter-totter, step up to scaffolding, and huge gap jumps and drops. Prior to the event Rob McSkimming said of the course, “You should see what they are building for the Slopestyle session. It looks like an Olympic facility. There are some features in there that are hard to imagine riding let alone throwing tricks on.”

There were many memorable moments during the competition. Kirt Voreis left an impression, falling off his bike on top of the teeter-totter. He was able to keep both himself and the bike on the teeter-totter and continue the run after the fall.

Spectators will also remember Timo Pritzel from Germany who went really big, massively overshooting the funbox transition near the bottom of the course and flying over the scaffolding. As the Whistler Question explained, “He did clear the scaffold, but bailed his bike in mid-air and landed the old-fashioned way, which looked to most of the spectators like a guy jumping out of a two story building.” He broke his wrist and ankle in the crash, and placed second in the competition.

In an impressive underdog story, Paul Basagoitia took top honours in the 2004 slopestyle when he was 17 and relatively unknown. He had a background in BMX, no sponsors and no bike, so he borrowed a bike from friend, Cam Zink, and went on to win the contest. In an in interview from Pique Newsmagazine at the time, he said, “It was awesome, it was only like my fifth time on a mountain bike, so I couldn’t be happier.”

Paul Basagoitia during Crankworx 2004 where he came first in the slopestyle. According to an article in The Red Bulletin, following his victory Paul said, “I would like to thank my sponsors, but I don’t have any sponsors, really.” Andrew Worth Collection.

Still on the progressive edge of mountain biking, the evolution of the Crankworx from 2004 to today is evident in the village this week. Whistler has again come alive in celebration of all things mountain biking and no doubt legends will continue to be created.

Whistler’s Answers: August 11, 1983

In the 1980s the Whistler Question began posing a question to three to six people and publishing their responses under “Whistler’s Answers” (not to be confused with the Whistler Answer).  Each week, we’ll be sharing one question and the answers given back in 1983.  Please note, all names/answers/occupations/neighbourhoods represent information given to the Question at the time of publishing and do not necessarily reflect the person today.

Some context for this week’s question: In the August 4, 1983 edition of the Question, an editorial reported that it cost 19% more to buy groceries in Whistler than in West Vancouver, a difference that was also present in other goods. The editorial also suggested that the situation would continue as long as those in Whistler did not shop at the local stores and merchants continued to reflect the high costs associated with doing business in Whistler in their prices.

Question: Do you patronize merchants in other areas rather than Whistler?

Karl Baumann – Professor of History – St. Moritz, Switzerland

I shop here. The prices are a little higher in the grocery store than in Vancouver. The meals are good in the restaurants and the atmosphere and service are excellent as well. It may be a little more expensive but I come from a resort town so I understand that.

Trudy Gruetzke – Hotel Manager – Whistler

I patronize merchants here because I find it convenient. Prices may a little higher, but it costs me money in gas to get to Squamish or Pemberton. And besides, if people don’t shop here, it’s not going to get any better.

Vera-Lee Wren – Housewife – Seattle

If I am coming to stay with my brother, I usually buy my things in Seattle than up here. Prices are higher in Canada and in Whistler, they are very high. It is typical of resorts. There’s hardly anything to choose in the stores and it probably wouldn’t hurt to have a little competition. I have been here a number of times so the high prices don’t shock me anymore.

Expo 86 – Putting BC on the Map

Expo 86 is widely credited as turning Vancouver from a sleepy regional city into the international destination that is it today, while also increasing the awareness of surrounding areas including Whistler and Victoria.

Expo 86 was a big deal throughout BC. Here Expo Ernie, the Expo astronaut mascot, is being paraded through Whistler in March 1984. Whistler Question Collection.

In 1986, Vancouver threw a party and the world accepted the invite. The 1986 World Exposition on Transportation and Communication, usually just called Expo 86, ran from May to October and had a visitation of over 22 million people, far exceeding original estimates. Many hopes for the region were pinned on Expo, which also far exceeded its initial budget. Full colour brochures were distributed extensively to encourage Expo visitors to travel to Whistler. According to the Whistler Question ahead of the opening of Expo on May 3 1986, the brochures were to be as ‘ubiquitous as the Gideon bible in Lower Mainland hotels and information centres this summer.’

Telemark Skiers, Luise and Pascal, and the Whistler Singers, during a performance of Whistler – Let the Spirit Grow during Expo 86. Expo 86 Collection.

World Expo is a long-running exhibition designed to highlight global achievements. Over 40 nations from around the world descended on Vancouver with their pavilions centred around the theme of transportation and communication.

Opening week of Expo saw over 55,000 people join the celebration in Vancouver, including hundreds of Whistlerites, and special guests the Prince and Princess of Wales, Charles and Diana. In the first week a group of talented Whistler locals, including the Whistler Singers, performed Whistler – Let the Spirit Grow, a song, dance and comedy production created for Expo and performed in the BC Pavilion. They had previously performed the witty well-orchestrated theatre piece for the community at Rainbow Theatre in the lead up to Expo, finishing with a standing ovation.

Sandy Boyd, the ‘downhill comedian’ in Whistler – Let the Spirit Grow. Expo 86 Collection.

Despite the visitors flocking to Vancouver, Whistler did not initially receive the influx of guests that it had anticipated. At the beginning of July, two months into Expo, visitor numbers were down for Whistler when compared to May/June 1985. At this time, summers were already quiet, and this was not the world-stage premiere that Whistler had been hoping for. Additionally, visitors who booked accommodation in Whistler expecting to commute to Expo daily were often sadly mistaken, wiping their brows as they arrived after the long and windy drive. However, the nice weather eventually arrived and visitation picked up with August and September becoming the busiest summer months yet for Whistler.

While the visitor numbers were not dramatically different, the Expo in Vancouver brought a different clientele. The usual visitors from the Lower Mainland enjoyed the Expo atmosphere, playing host and tourist closer to home, while the guests visiting Whistler over the summer were coming from further away and staying longer. Traffic from the USA in particular increased. Studies commissioned at the time found that awareness of BC had increased more than 60% amongst people in California due to Expo.

Additionally, having Expo in Vancouver was pushing lots of conventions to Whistler because there was more accommodation. The Convention Centre had finally opened in June 1985 and many conferences made Whistler their home for the first time in 1986, including the Social Credit Party Leadership Convention, spreading the word throughout a population who might not otherwise visit.

The finale of Whistler – Let the Spirit Grow in the BC Pavilion, May 7 1986. Expo 86 Collection.

According to Drew Meredith, who became mayor in 1986 after Expo ended, until this time when people heard ‘Whistler’ they thought of pot-smoking hippies and a ski resort. Expo 86 changed that. “You had to get the right people and get the right message out, and I think Expo 86 did that. Expo was such a huge showcase of BC in the summertime. It was all killer whales, forests, mountains, and waterfalls. It was an amazing advertising campaign around the world.” Whistler went on to host another big party, the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in 2010, and today visitors come from all around the world in both summer and winter.

Whistler’s Answers: August 4, 1983

In the 1980s the Whistler Question began posing a question to three to six people and publishing their responses under “Whistler’s Answers” (not to be confused with the Whistler Answer).  Each week, we’ll be sharing one question and the answers given back in 1983.  Please note, all names/answers/occupations/neighbourhoods represent information given to the Question at the time of publishing and do not necessarily reflect the person today.

Some context for this week’s question: The Delta Mountain Inn opened in July 1982 and operated through that winter. In July 1983, however, the hotel announced that it would be closed from September 26 to November 21, 1983, due to the lack of convention business. The hotel claimed that the Delta would lose money by remaining open with so few guests expected during the period.

Question: What impact do you think the closing of Delta Mountain Inn will have on the hotel and on Whistler?

Lea-Ann Russell – Village Store Employee – Brio Estates

I don’t think closing was a good idea. To close and reopen like that would be hard to organize. They would have been better to stay open with a skeleton staff – maybe only one floor open. I don’t think it will hurt Whistler though because there are still enough places still open.

Dennis Waddingham – Village Store Owner – Whistler Cay

I think they should’ve announced it a lot earlier so local businesses would know when ordering their fall stock. Without Delta, Whistler’s visitor count will drop for sure. No, unfortunately I don’t think closing will hurt Delta itself at all. It’ll hurt their staff though.

Paul Clarke – Assistant Hotel Manager – Nesters Road

In the long run I don’t think closing will have a large effect on Whistler or the hotel at all. I feel sorry for them – it’s one thing to try and run a little restaurant up here but another thing to keep a huge operation like that going. From a business standpoint they just couldn’t do it.