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Squamish gives blessing to FIS ski championship organizers

The local organizing committee hopes to bring the 2023 event to the Sea to Sky
From last year's JWSC in Lahti, Finland.

Squamish has thrown its support behind organizers hoping to bring a major nordic skiing event to the Sea to Sky in 2023.

Bringing the Fédération Internationale de Ski, or FIS, Nordic Junior and U23 Ski World Championships was pitched to council as a way to reignite the town’s Olympic spirit.

This February marks the 10-year anniversary of the  2010 Winter Olympics held in Vancouver and Whistler.

“For us, it’s really about the next generation,” said Norman Laube, chair of the local organizing committee. “It’s about the youth, it’s about the future.”

Laube appeared before council, asking elected officials to consider showing support as a co-host for the competition alongside Whistler.

On Jan. 14, council voted unanimously in favour of supporting the organizers’ efforts to obtain funding from the province.

The motion, put forth by Mayor Karen Elliott, directs municipal staff to look into gaming grant options for the competition and draft a letter of support for the organizers.

“I’m very excited about this,” said Coun. John French.

The Resort Municipality of Whistler has already expressed support, said Laube, and now with Squamish’s blessing, there’s a good chance the FIS would be willing to allow them to host the event.

“We feel very confident that it’s feasible and doable,” Laube told The Chief.

After it receives applications from potential host communities, the FIS will make its decision at the end of 2020, he said.

According to Laube’s numbers, the event is expected to cost $1.7 million, but generate revenues of about $1.87 million.

It’s expected to be a popular spectacle. Estimates predict the eight-day event in January 2023 will attract 500 athletes and 300 FIS officials from 35 countries.

On top of that, add 1,000 local volunteers and about 20,000 fans.

Laube said a study the organizing committee conducted predicted about 10,000 people will stay overnight or longer, about 80% to 90% being in Squamish.

Part of the reason is price point, as teams and officials will be on an FIS-allocated allowance. Whistler will likely be too expensive, Laube said.

Those demographics will likely be the ones staying in Squamish, while fans will probably stay in Whistler, he said.

“I’m delighted this is happening and wish you the best of luck,” said Coun. Doug Race.

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