Faces & Places: Big White Olympic Send off

Big White has held many events over the years, but on Saturday January 6 they held the biggest event in the mountain’s history – The Molson Canadian Olympic Team Send-off.

The all-day event also included a skate with former Canadian Women’s Hockey captains Hayley Wickenheiser and Cassie Campbell, 50% off tubing with s’mores and hot chocolate, hot dogs by donation in the Village Centre, Beer Gardens, a screening of the Moguls World Cup, athlete parade & signing, live performances including July Talk, fireworks and of course the after party at the Molson Canadian Beer Gardens.

With over 6000 people in attendance, television crews, large stages, tremendous sponsorship and athlete scheduling, we caught up with Katie Balkwill and Michael Ballingall to learn how they pulled off an event of this magnitude.

How was Big White chosen to host this event?

We began working with the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) and the Wasserman team in July as a potential host for their Molson Canadian Olympic Team Send-Off.  As you can imagine for such an event, the COC looked at multiple host venues and after lots planning, site inspections and hard work, Big White was thrilled to have been selected as the host venue.

Hayley Wickenheiser poses for a photo with Cynthia Thomas’ daughter Ella.

With athletes in training how did you entice them to attend this event?

The COC worked with athletes, teams and coaches to attend.  You are certainly correct in that  athletes are deep into their training competition schedules as they prepare for PyeongChang.  We were thrilled at the number of athletes that were able to attend and fill the stage as thousands of people cheered them on! This included past Olympic champions, Olympic athletes from both summer and winter Olympic Games, as well as Olympic hopefuls including Big White’s own Tess Crichlow who is an Olympic hopeful in Snowboard Cross.  Incredible words were spoken by Chef de Mission, Isabelle Charest on what it means to be an Olympic athlete representing Canada.

How did sponsorship play a part in this event?

The COC has some fantastic partnerships to help support Canadian Athletes, which we were thrilled wanted to participate in this event.  This included having representation and on-site activations from COC partners including Molson, Toyota, Canadian Tire and Sport Chek.  We felt these activations really added to the guest experience and brought the event to the next level.  While some of these partners may have differed from our mountain partners, fortunate for the strength of our existing partner relationships with open dialogue and them understanding the magnitude of this one day event.

What was involved in the setup?

We brought a large stage into the main village.   Hauling it in the snow, during a busy holiday season took tremendous efforts.  The stage alone required 10 people and took over 10 hours to setup.  The entire project took incredible team effort from start to finish and we couldn’t be more proud of our team.

Check out this video to see the event in action.