Whistler lo­cals and vis­i­tors have been ob­sessed with ski­ing for half a cen­tury, ever since the first lifts opened in 1966. Since those early days, the town’s reper­toire of win­ter sports and ac­tiv­i­ties has ex­panded enor­mously. Tub­ing is a won­der­ful place to start, as the whole fam­ily can en­joy whizzing down the hill on in­flat­able tubes. Sim­ply head up to Whistler Black­comb’s Coca-Cola Tube Park, lo­cated at the Base II Zone on Black­comb Moun­tain. It’s eas­ily ac­cessed from the Vil­lage at no cost via the Ex­cal­ibur Gon­dola. Be sure to wear warm win­ter cloth­ing, and for your com­fort, a pair of gog­gles.

If the Tube Park arouses a need for even greater speed, sign up for a zi­pline tour to soar high above Whistler’s glacier-fed creeks and through cedar, hem­lock and Dou­glas fir forests. Tours com­bine an ex­hil­a­rat­ing ex­pe­ri­ence with fas­ci­nat­ing and ed­u­ca­tional in­sights into Whistler’s ecol­ogy.

For more high-speed, grav­ity-fed en­deav­ours, book the Thun­der on Ice (bobsleigh) or Light­ning on Ice (skele­ton) slid­ing ex­pe­ri­ence at the Whistler Slid­ing Cen­tre, a 2010 Olympic Win­ter Games venue. The pro­grams are open to the pub­lic, and pro­vide sport ori­en­ta­tion, hel­met fit­ting, track eti­quette, safety guide­lines and the fastest run of your life at up to 125 kilo­me­tres an hour in the bobsleigh and 100 km/h on the skele­ton.

You’ll find an­other Win­ter Games legacy venue in the Cal­laghan Val­ley, 20 min­utes south of Whistler. Whistler Olympic Park is a premier Nordic re­cre­ation des­ti­na­tion, and is the home of the Olympic crosscoun­try, biathlon and ski-jump­ing fa­cil­i­ties. Both clas­sic cross-coun­try and skate-ski rentals and lessons are avail­able, as well as great starter trails on mostly flat ter­rain, like the 3.8-km Nev­er­land Trail. At a 15-km round-trip, the Nor­we­gian Woods trail and Made­ley Creek Loop is a more chal­leng­ing course for those who want to pump up their heart rate with rolling climbs and de­scents. Those who wish to try a tra­di­tional Cana­dian ac­tiv­ity at a calmer pace can rent snow­shoes and em­bark on the 35 kilo­me­tres of main­tained trails. For a unique ex­pe­ri­ence, test your car­dio and your marks­man­ship by en­rolling in the Dis­cover Biathlon pro­gram. Par­tic­i­pants learn how to com­bine cross-coun­try skate ski­ing around a short loop with shoot­ing a ri­fle in the biathlon tar­get range.

Ice skat­ing is a clas­sic Cana­dian win­ter pas­time, and there are three places in Whistler to glide. Meadow Park Sports Cen­tre has an in­door rink that’s open year-round. Skat­ing out­doors in the heart of the Vil­lage is quite mag­i­cal with the twin­kling lights of Whistler Olympic Plaza, where you can rent skates, cruise around with your friends, and strike up a ca­sual game of shinny. And if the weather is cold, dry, and the con­di­tions are safe, it’s some­times pos­si­ble to bliss­fully skate across the lo­cal lakes.

For a truly ro­man­tic win­ter ex­pe­ri­ence, take an old-fash­ioned sleigh ride. Cozy up to loved ones un­der warm blan­kets, as two mag­nif­i­cent Percheron horses pull your sleigh smoothly on snow­cov­ered trails and through ma­jes­tic forests. Dog sled­ding is an au­then­ti­cally Cana­dian way to ex­plore the trails of the Cal­laghan Val­ley. Learn to mush your own team, or re­lax and en­joy the ride, led by an ex­pert guide.

One way to make the most of your time in Whistler is to ac­cess the sur­round­ing back­coun­try quickly via snow­mo­bile. Sev­eral op­er­a­tors of­fer scenic, guided tours for the new rider and fam­i­lies, ad­ven­ture tours that speed over frozen lakes and into high alpine bowls, and ex­treme rid­ing tours for the ex­pe­ri­enced, big moun­tain en­thu­si­ast.

Heli-ski­ing is the ul­ti­mate ski­ing or board­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. Led by ex­pe­ri­enced, cer­ti­fied in­struc­tors, you will ven­ture into the vast wilder­ness of the B.C. back­coun­try aboard five- to 10-pas­sen­ger he­li­copters. Un­touched big moun­tain pow­der ski­ing and se­cluded tree ski­ing in small groups, spec­tac­u­lar scenery and a gourmet alpine lunch com­bine to com­plete your un­for­get­table back­coun­try ski day. A va­ri­ety of tours is of­fered, from in­ter­me­di­ate-ad­vanced to ex­pert. An­other back­coun­try op­tion is cat-ski­ing, where af­ter each adren­a­line-fu­eled, pow­der-shred down un­tracked slopes, you have the com­fort of warm­ing up in

the heated snow­cat, re-fu­el­ing with snacks and a hot drink as it tracks up to the next peak. It is rec­om­mended that you have strong, in­ter­me­di­ate skills with ex­pe­ri­ence in trees, pow­der and steep ter­rain.

With­out a doubt, Whistler’s rep­u­ta­tion as a world-class win­ter re­cre­ation mecca is a re­sult of its two mas­sive moun­tain play­grounds, Whistler and Black­comb. Their com­bined 8,171 acres of ter­rain, 37 lifts, 200+ marked runs, and 1,163 cen­time­tres of an­nual snow­fall are en­tic­ing sta­tis­tics. How­ever, true ap­pre­ci­a­tion of th­ese num­bers is en­hanced by tak­ing a snow-school les­son to dis­cover the sweet spots on the moun­tains. If you’re un­able to roam the runs on planks or a board, be sure to put the PEAK 2 PEAK Gon­dola sight­see­ing ex­pe­ri­ence on your “must-do” list to view the spec­tac­u­lar alpine en­vi­ron­ment and its snow-cov­ered peaks, forested val­leys and glacier-fed rivers.

Since its one-sport of­fer­ing in the ’60s, Whistler’s come a long way. And we’re al­most cer­tain that next time you visit there will be even more thrilling win­ter­time ac­tiv­i­ties to try.

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