February 27/01 5:12 am - Grouse World Cup Announcement
Posted by Editor on 02/27/01
Grouse World Cup Announcement
World Cup promoter Gestev and Grouse Mountain Resort held a press conference earlier today to announce their partnership in producing the Mountain Bike World Cup triple (Cross-country, Dual and Downhill) that they hope will be a replacement for the failed Whistler event on July 6-8. We still say 'hope' because the final approval still hinges on the UCI, who are expected to release their decision next week, according to Chantal Lachance of Gestev.
"After the withdrawal of Whistler, Patrice (Drouin, her partner) and I talked, and there was no way that we could let it leave Canada, especially with the Olympic bid for Toronto (UCI President Hein Verbruggen is the chair of the IOC Evaluation Committee) and how hard it is to get a triple in the first place."
Lachance says that the UCI Technical Delegate (Kelli Turcotte) had some reservations, but came away impressed with the facilities. "She saw how close everything was to the city, and realized that everything was okay - the trams, the downhill, the access. She may have to come back after the snow is gone for final course approval, but basically everything is good. I think it is the perfect venue."
The first step Gestev took was to contact Olympic mountain biker Lesley Tomlinson, who heads up a consulting group of top west coast mountain bikers (The Shore Group - Tomlinson, Alison Sydor, Andreas Hestler and Elladee Brown) who have been working with Grouse on an alpine park plan for mountain biking. Tomlinson put Gestev in touch with Stuart McLaughlin at Grouse and the bid began to take shape.
All three events will be held on Grouse, although Lachance admits that initial plans were for the downhill to be run elsewhere. The cross-country will be on a 5 kilometre loop that Lachance describes as "very technical, as it should be for the west coast. There are no flat sections."
The downhill will be 2.1 kilometres long, with no flat/pedalling sections. It will be "challenging and spectacular". The downhill starts at the top of Grouse, with an incredible view of the city of Vancouver as the backdrop. One unique feature will be that the spectators will take the Sky Ride trams to the start of the downhill, and then make their way down the course, unlike most downhills, where fans have to climb up the course (meaning most congregate at the bottom).
The Dual will have its own unique venue also, meaning three completely separate courses that are close to each other. Events will take place at altitudes between 2800' and 3700'. McLaughlin says that there is good drainage in all areas that the events will be run on, so there is little concern over diversions in the event of wet conditions.
Access to the venue is through the two trams - the Sky Ride. Spectators will be limited to 8,000 for each day of competition, and it will be paid access. There will also be entry through participation in fund-raising rides up Grouse, with the monies going to the popular Sprockids program that encourages young riders.
The facilities at the top of Grouse include 5 restaurants, although accommodation is all below. It is 15 minutes from downtown Vancouver, according to McLaughlin. "The athletes will be able to ride to and from the venue, if they wish."
While Gestev with take care of event organization, it is a partnership, with Grouse looking after spectators (transport and ticketing), food, facilities (teams, media, etc.) and physical construction of the courses (under the supervision of Gestev). Grouse has never attempted a bike race of this magnitude before, but they have put on a World Cup GS ski race (1998).
The proposed schedule will be the same as Gestev's Mont Ste Anne World Cup - Dual preliminaries Friday evening (July 6th), with the final Saturday evening after the downhill during the day. The cross-country will take place on Sunday. At this point, plans for supporting non-World Cup events are up in the air - "50-50" according to Chantal Lachance. "We would like to do it, but with this short notice, only 4 months, we have to concentrate on the World Cup."
Lachance admits that they are still securing all the financing needed, but have a good start thus far. "We are planning 60% sponsorship and have one-third, 30% public/government (the feds have apparently promised half of the government money - $50,000 through Sport Canada) and the remaining 10% from registrations, product sales, etc."
So, while it is still not 100% confirmed, Lachance would say "we are very confident." Given Gestev's track record (which includes multiple World Cups per year and two World Championships), it looks like the west coast has managed to save their World Cup.
Editor's Note: we spoke briefly with Alison Sydor at her California training camp before the press conference, and will speak with her again later this evening regarding the event.