Innovation And Progression At Whistler/Blackcomb

By Zach Sofsky

Whistler/Blackcomb has been and continues to be at the forefront in the evolution of mountain resorts in North America. From pill-popping-chardonnay-drinking-trophy-wife to the hardcore outdoor enthusiast, Whistler/Blackcomb has something for all types. Nature filled activities, great food, shopping, and a nightlife that can leave one wondering “what happened,” only scratch the surface. I recently made the trip up with Transworld SNOWboarding Business’s Art Director Doug Manson; and caught up with Public Relations and Communications Manager Christopher Nicolson, Media Relations Coordinator Sara Gardiner, Events Manager Peter Young, and Terrain Parks Supervisor Stuart Osborne, to see what Whistler/Blackcomb has instore for the spring season.

One new feature at the colossal resort is North America’s steepest groomed run. A 38 degree slope that tests the limits, abilities, and specs of the grooming cats, as well as riders. It provides even the most experienced thrill seekers a run of unparalleled speeds without the threat of moguls getting in the way.

If long fast runs aren’t your forté, then look to one of Whistler/Blackcomb’s terrain parks. “Progression is the only way to keep the park alive,” says Osborne. With three different parks and halfpipes, these features are sure to outlive any live Phish song-if that’s even possible. Osborne, alongside right-hand-man Steve Petrie and a supporting cast of dedicated sculptors, has engineered rails (welded on sight), jumps, jibs, spines, a snowcross track, and bulky tabletops that don’t limit the athletes’ lines.

In fact, Intrawest, the corporate owner of Whistler/Blackcomb, has increased this year’s terrain budget by 10,000 dollars to keep the evolution of the park going and almost insuring a top ranking among other resort competitors.

While progression is what they strive for, safety is still top priority. Two of the three terrain parks have been constructed for novice and less aggressive park riders. By taking tabletops off of these runs, a twenty-percent reduction of injuries has resulted. But don’t worry, there’s still plenty of rails, spines, jibs, and a snowcross track (stay high for speed) to enjoy.

The Highest Level park on Blackcomb remains for the most advanced and expert riders with hopes to make the magazines or impress their peers. Respect is earned to whomever goes the biggest. To ensure a division of talent, an annual fifteen dollar terrain park pass fee is required as well as a signed contract used as an educational tool reminding would be rock stars of the dangers involved while hucking yourself off a tabletop. Throw in a mandatory helmet law and hopefully everyone goes home happy and unbroken.

As spectacular as the terrain parks are, there’s still over 7,000 acres of big-mountain riding to benefit from. Groomed runs, moguls, trees, cliffs, cat tracks and other terrain can be found all over the two mountains. Top that off with one of the most impressive girl to guy ratio ever seen at a mountain resort and everyone is bound to have fun. With future events such as TransWorld’s SNOWboarding Industry Conference and Powder Quest and the World Ski and Snowboard Festival coming to town, this is the place to be if you want to ride, relax, party, or just get weird.