What makes a world class ski resort? Is it the number of runs and lifts? The level of amenities or the amount of accommodation? To many vacationers, these stats say a lot. But to another type of guest, reputation within the ski and snowboard industry is really what sets a destination apart.
This stat is obviously more elusive to quantify, but when it’s there, you know it. Think about Park City, Whistler, or Jackson Hole. You know it’s good because that’s where the pros are. And while Sun Peaks is becoming a top training facility in the Canadian world of alpine skiing, there are other important disciplines which don’t yet have the same status here.
Boardercross and ski cross have been Olympic sports since 2006 and with the inclusion of the slopestyle events in the Sochi games, you can no longer argue it’s a rouge hobby. These athletes are just as dedicated as the rest, with a powerful fan base and industry behind them.
In Canada, it’s almost a given that once an athlete reaches a certain level they must move to Whistler for a chance at a career. It’s where you’ll network, train, compete and film, and it holds an important and esteemed place within our industry. But wouldn’t it be great if we could hold onto our talented locals for a little while longer?
Sun Peaks has made an important step forward by establishing a new freestyle ski team. In the past, these Kamloops athletes wishing to compete had to join clubs at other nearby Interior mountains. You can read more about this on page 17, but we still have progress to make in terms of freestyle snowboarding, skier and boardercross, or even super pipe.
While it’s expensive to build and maintain facilities, employ coaches and fundraise for clubs, it should be considered an investment as opposed to an expense.
There are numerous long-term economic spin-offs, most recently evidenced in the record breaking ski race training pre-season we just had. First in terms of lift tickets and training space, but also revenue in the tens of thousands to our hotels and village businesses.
Some may argue against it, but I believe having a strong reputation in this regard is also a motivation for travel. Kids want to ride where the pros train, even if they’re not hitting the 100’ booter. They want to ski where the photos in magazines are from. Adults want a trusted name for they can rely on for the experience they want. And one only has to glance at the Whistler Winter Athlete Team to see the marketing value of successful homegrown athletes.
Our terrain park continues to improve and gain credibility every winter. Sun Peaks has proven it can hold large scale comps, such as the recent Dew Tour Am Series. There’s no reason to stop this trajectory. Why not a permanent ski and bordercross training run or even a future dry land trampoline centre for athletes who want to live here year-round? The opportunities are truly endless.
I’m stoked to see how this fledgling team fairs this season and excited they will be representing Sun Peaks at competitions around the area. With the right support from us I’m sure they’ll kill it. Hopefully, along with the new skier cross races, it will be a catalyst for more positive changes on the way to becoming world class resort with a matching industry reputation.