The Valdez Star - Serving Prince William Sound and Copper River Basin

Editor, Valdez Star 

WESSC makes pitch for city council backing in its bid to return

Group says its infrastructure will ensure success but city support is vital


WESSC - the World Extreme Skiing and Snowboard Championships - needs city support to return as a world-class event.

So said organizers Nick Perata and Tony Harrington who appeared before the Valdez City Council in a work session Friday, seeking a city commitment of $150,000 to bring the event back to Valdez.

It is asking for $125,000 cash and $25,000 in-kind services for the first year.

"We'll bring something back at the April 5 meeting for either approval or disapproval," Mayor Larry Weaver said at the end of the meeting.

The group told council its support is needed to secure commitments from corporate sponsors for the next skiing season.

"We need to get their commitment ASAP," Harrington said. "These sponsors need to be locked in now."

As envisioned, the event will bring the top 50 male and female skiers to Valdez yearly. Harrington likened it to a freestyle ski Olympics.

The difference to past WESC events is the backing and professional organization Harrington says.

The group plans to include media competitions with the skiing and snowboard events, in addition to other promotional events to bring Valdez back into the spotlight.

In return for city support, the group says the event's goal is to "Maximize the positive impact of the event for the wider Valdez community and build a positive legacy and contribute to Valdez’s capacity by: Improving local event development skills and expertise; Engagement and development for sporting organizations; Education and youth outreach; and Community engagement."

The request comes at a time when city-backing for winter sports activities is at an all-time high. But so are the requests for financial backing.

Dean Cummings, himself a former WESC skier and current owner of a heli-skiing operation in Valdez with substantial infrastructure investments in the community, spoke at the meeting, and questioned the value of the WESC.

Cummings is supporting a request by a Warren Miller Entertainment/Active Interest Media. Representatives of Warren Miller requested city support in the amount of $296,000 to back a media campaign for summer and winter tourism.

Council was set to vote on the expenditure Tuesday night.

Harrington, event director of the highly successful New Zealand World Heli Challenge, is an advisor to the WESSC board. He also competed in the event in its heyday.

Perata, founder of the legendary King of the Hill Competiton, is a legend in snowboarding circles.

The board of directors is led by Ryan McCune, who is also a sitting council member. McCune's family were cofounders of WESC, which did not include snowboarding at the time.

The board makeup includes VP Laurine Regan, executive director of the Valdez Convention and Visitors Bureau, Nick Perata, Tim R. Hodge, and John Woodbury.


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