Winter Park Resort having busy summer despite canceling Freeride Festival
WINTER PARK — The cancellation of this year’s Colorado Freeride Festival at Winter Park Resort left a void in the summer calendar. Despite the cancellation and construction on the resort, however, it has still been a busy summer, according to Steve Hurlbert, director of public relations for the resort.
“Looking back on it now, it was the right decision to make,” Hurlbert admitted. “The base area is just too full of construction and it would have really impacted the event, both in terms of participators’ enjoyment and, of course, spectator enjoyment.
“It was the right move, even though it was a bummer not to have it.”
Hurlbert said the resort hopes that fans of the Freeride Festival, which features various downhill races, including the Maxxis Slopestyle competition, stunts and more, think of this year as more of a hiatus, since the event will return next year. The resort is even considering expanding the festival to incorporate more of the community for its next outing.
“The thinking is, if we endure a little short-term pain, it will really pay off huge dividends in the future,” Hurlbert said. “One thing we’re really looking at is expanding the festival and some events throughout the valley. So really making it less of a Winter Park Resort only event, but really tapping into mountain biking throughout the valley.”
The construction did not affect other mountain biking events such as the Epic Bike Series or the Trestle Series, and the Trestle Bike Park has maintained normal summer operations.
Though Hurlbert said the resort won’t know exactly how the cancellation of the event has affected the number of visitors or the monetary impact until the end of the summer evaluations, previously the Freeride Festival brought in about 20,000 people over the weekend. Hurlbert also said the resort has still seen a steady number of people visiting and lodging.
“People are still coming up to the resort and having a good time, even with all the construction and the postponement of (the Freeride Festival),” he said. “We were looking at this year, going into the summer as something that the construction would impact visitation so we were prepared for it. I think we were prepared for it impacting visitation more than it actually has, which has been a nice surprise.”
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UPDATED 5:45 PM: A flash flood warning has now been issued for northeastern Grand County, including Grand Lake, until 8:45 p.m. tonight.