SLIDING TO SUCCESS
Learning Facility Improvements
Whistler and Blackcomb are massive mountains, but don’t let their size or rocky alpine regions intimidate you. Within the resort’s 8,000+ acres of skiable terrain there are plenty of beginner-friendly zones. This year Whistler Blackcomb ( WB) has focused its efforts on accommodating new skiers and snowboarders by investing $2.4 million to improve the mountains’ learning areas. This past summer, Whistler Mountain’s Olympic learning area received a complete re-vamp including new carpet lifts and a massive amount of earthwork. The Fantastic ski run was not only widened, but a large rock bench was also removed and the material was used to fill in the opposite side of the run. As Adam Francis, WB’s mountain manager, explains, levelling the slope makes it easier to ski. “It’s to square it up, if you will … a beginner, they don’t have the ability to turn that well so the fall line pulls them wherever,” Francis says. With no shortage of new skiers and snowboarders in the Olympic learning area, Whistler Blackcomb has added more beginner-friendly magic carpet lifts. As Francis explained, new skiers and riders can now follow a four-lift progression: Start on the short carpet and work your way through longer and steeper runs on the following three carpets. After that, you’re ready for the chairlifts! The groomers at WB have also created a few new terrain-based features to help build fundamental snow skills. One new feature is simply a gentle dip in the snow that beginners can slide through to help learn how to maintain front-to-back balance. Another new addition is a U-shaped snowbank that skiers slide up, and then turn around on.
The bank helps steer the skis and accelerates the process of learning proper turns. Whether you’re a pro or it’s your first day, everyone needs good snow to slide on! To ensure early opening of these zones and assist with maintaining ideal conditions throughout the season, Whistler Blackcomb has added 32 new low-energy snow guns to the Olympic learning area and 13 more to the Magic Chair learning area on Blackcomb. While Whistler and Blackcomb mountains are famous for their highlevel terrain, their wide variety of slopes also provides a great place to learn skiing or snowboarding from day one. “This new investment provides an increased footprint of beginner terrain, contains various slope angles and really allows for a progressive pattern,” Francis says. With plenty of mellow runs and advanced learning facilities, Whistler Blackcomb isn’t just a place where skiers’ and snowboarders’ dreams culminate. It can be where they start, too.