Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

Freeride ski tour to return for 2 years

 


All signs indicate the Freeride World Tour will be returning to Haines for at least the next two seasons to hold its competition.

Haines Borough Tourism Director Leslie Ross said she spoke with the international ski and snowboard competition’s organizer, Nicolas Hale-Woods, on Tuesday morning.

“The plan is definitely them coming back,” Ross said. “Right now the direction is for the next two years.”

The only hitch is the tour’s recent loss of one of its major sponsors, The North Face. Ross said she has agreed to help the tour find other sponsors to make the its stop in Haines feasible.

“They are looking at their own big sponsorships. I am just helping to make some contacts for regional and statewide sponsors,” Ross said.

Ross said she will also be contacting local sponsors. The tour has various sponsorship packages detailing what exposure a business or organization gets for what amount of money, from logos on banners to logos on helicopters.

The event is typically held at large resorts, which sponsor the event, she said.

As far as the borough contribution goes, it won’t be putting in at the sponsorship level, Ross said. This year, the borough sponsored the awards banquet with the Haines Chamber of Commerce and made in-kind donations as far as time and event space, and Ross said she doesn’t see spending more than that on the tour’s future events.

Ross estimated that she has set aside about $2,000 in next year’s tourism department budget for the event.

It’s unclear whether the tour would pull out of Haines if organizers failed to secure enough sponsorships, Ross said.

Ross said she has briefly spoken with the Juneau Convention and Visitors Bureau about partnering with it to take the event to a statewide level. The rough plan would mean event competitors would fly into Juneau, spent a day skiing at Eaglecrest Ski Area, and then continue to Haines.

The idea cropped up from the one frustration expressed by athletes who came for the tour this year: if they couldn’t afford to go heli-skiing on off-days and didn’t want to slog up a mountain, there was nowhere to ski here. Eaglecrest’s chairlifts would give the competitors more and varied skiing opportunities, Ross said.

This year’s event, held March 23 after multiple weather delays, drew positive reviews from local business owners due to the extra traffic and sales.

“As far as townspeople go, I don’t think I heard one negative thing about (the Freeride World Tour) being here. People were happy to have their restaurants full,” Ross said.

Bar and restaurant owner Christy Tengs Fowler said she was “thrilled” to hear the tour is returning to Haines.

“That’s fantastic,” she said. “I just love those guys. They were really great customers and great people.”

Tengs Fowler said she experienced a “huge boom” in business because of the tour’s presence in town. “We were able to be open every day because of them,” she said.

 
 

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