Best of Whistler 2011 

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Recent events show that democracy is a funny thing.

For example, Canada is majority ruled by a party that received only two out of five votes in the May 2 federal election, while almost four in 10 Canadians didn't bother to vote at all. Put another way, less than a quarter of eligible voters decided who would form government this time around.

In B.C., Christy Clark became the leader of the province through a party leadership election before she was even elected to the Legislature through a byelection — narrowly winning a supposedly "safe" seat. What would have happened if she lost? She may have had to ask another MLA to step down and run again or call a general election.

And in November, Whistler recently voted out our entire incumbent council, from the mayor on down — the first time that's happened in the history of this town.

Pique's annual Best of Whistler issue is a form of democracy of sorts — people vote, we tabulate and the winners are recognized in the community and feted in our paper. Readers get some ideas where to eat and shop, what to do, and learn a something about our mountain town.

Our intention was never to create a definitive ranking system for the resort, just a guide to let people know about what's out there. If it encourages people and businesses in town to raise their games to another level, so much the better for all of us.

This year might be our most democratic poll yet with over 1,700 people responding. Nobody answered every question on the survey, but in a lot of cases the winners were decided by some pretty large numbers. Some questions had almost 1,300 responses.

So congratulations to all the winners and back slaps to those that didn't win. There's always next year.

QUINTESSENTIAL WHISTLER

Best Example of Whistler Architecture

It may not be open every day like we hoped it was going to be — closed on Sunday's now due to — what else — budgetary pressures, but that doesn't mean we don't love our library . We were once very worried about this library. Is it too big for Whistler? Is it too grand? Did it need a living roof and massive timber framing? Did it need to be LEED gold? How much of a premium was that designation? But now that the $12 million is spent, the ever-rising library budget story, which was fodder for the Pique for years, is but a distant memory.

Just before the library opened, and at a request of another increase to the budget, then-mayor Ken Melamed said:

"There are a large number of people in the community that are looking forward to this project... It is a costly investment, but it is a significant investment."

Now it's hard to remember that the Whistler library was once a leaky old trailer.

West coast architectural firm Hughes Condon Marler Architects designed the library — the first LEED Gold certified library in Canada.

"The library provides a bold civic facility and is both a showpiece of sustainable design and a contemporary response to its mountain resort context," according to the Hughes Condon Marler website. "Design features include innovative prefabricated wood roof panels, locally quarried basalt and a large gently sloping green roof."

The library has been recognized with several awards: the Lieutenant Governor of BC Awards for Architecture, the Wood Design Real Cedar Award and the BC Wood Design Award.

Hughes Condon Marler also led the team in the Robson Square ice rink expansion and plaza revitalization in Vancouver.

But if we're talking Whistler architecture, Pique readers didn't forget the $30 million Squamish-Lil'wat Cultural Centre, the $50 million Peak 2 Peak gondola and the $13.67 million Whistler Olympic Plaza.

Best Excuse for Being Late

 TOO MUCH SNOW.  Who wrote "too much snow?" Is there such a thing? Can we ever have TOO MUCH SNOW? Give your heads a shake.

What we think some readers meant to say, and others so eloquently put it, is "pow day", "20 cms day", "30 cms day", "snow dump", "sweet, sweet pow", "freshies", "it's puking" or whatever variation of the same — essentially, the skiing is too good for something as soulless as work. Jobs come and go but you never know when you're going to get that sweet, sweet thrill of floating on some fresh powder. Does life get any better than that? Best not to squander any of it.

Business owners throughout the valley understand, or at least they did before they became business owners. They may not be happy about it, but they understand there's this freakish magnetic pull to the mountains on a good day.

But "powder" got a run for its money this year, with transit a close second with some choice words from readers to describe the service, from the bus being late, to the bus not showing up at all, to "they cancelled my bus route." Not good news for a service that is $840,000 off budget, and that's after major service cuts.

Best Neighbourhood

Really?  Alpine  again? Maybe we should just copy and paste this from previous years. This most loved neighbourhood is tops year after year. Or should we try to come up with something witty and relevant to say about Alpine Meadows once again? How about we give the numbers break down for this question seeing as it was the most answered question in the Quintessential Whistler section? Of the almost 1,300 people who answered, 17.5 per cent picked the neighbourhood to the north that boasts the sports complex, a little market and a bustling eatery and coffee shop. Creekside was second, but it wasn't really even that close with 12.4 per cent of the vote. Bayshores was third with 5.4 per cent of the vote. Let's give a shout out to Northern Lights (where the hell is that?), Tamarisk, Westside, and Taluswood because although these places barely registered on the Best of Whistler survey, they're still in Whistler, which, as we all know, is the best place on earth.

Best New Business

Happy One-Year Anniversary  Alta Bistro.  This is our gift to you. Pique readers have picked you as the Best New Business in Whistler. Hard to imagine it's been a year this Christmas. Last Christmas, owners Edward Dangerfield and Eric Griffith served family and friends and, oh yeah, rapper, music producer, entrepreneur Lil' Jon and his family. Since then, Griffith said the restaurant has been on an "upward curve." They've weathered the ups and downs of the first year in business and are coming out strong.

"All of the staff and team at Alta Bistro are thrilled," he said, of the Pique readers' recognition. Griffith is a local guy who graduated in 1997, the first graduating class at Whistler Secondary School. He went to university, travelled and came back home. Dangerfield grew up on the Isle of Wight and came to Whistler for a "gap year" — that was almost ten years ago.

Check out Alta Bistro at 4319 Main Street, close to the library.

Because we want all new businesses to hit the ground running, we're naming second, third and fourth place too in this category. They are: David's Tea, Bounce and Celebrate — all worth checking out.

Best Performance by a Local Politician

The Oscar goes to... our new mayor  Nancy Wilhelm-Morden.  Who else could it be after the landslide election victory? We won't re-hash those numbers again. Wilhelm-Morden ran a flawless campaign and, more importantly, told the voters what they wanted to hear — that she was the face of CHANGE.

But the skeptics in the peanut gallery, and you know there were many, never believed she would be able to pull it off — bring back free parking to the village day lots? It seemed like the classic empty campaign promise delivered in earnest by many a desperate politician. Wilhelm-Morden, however, meant it. And within one day of taking office, she and the rest of her team, set the ball rolling to roll back one of the most unpopular decisions of any council — pay parking. Sure, it's not exactly what she promised. She wanted to bring back free parking in Lots 2-5, and what we're getting is free parking in Lots 4 and 5, and free after 5 p.m. in all the day lots just in time for the holiday season. The mayor said she had to "compromise." It doesn't matter what she calls it. She takes the cake for best performance by a local politician. And it might not all have to do with pay parking. She's also taking a $10,000 pay cut as mayor, dealing with the untouchable illegal space issue, and keeps saying Whistler is "back open again for business." That's music to our ears. So let the show go on Mayor Nancy!

As for the peanut gallery, put your money where your mouths are and get back into the village and MAKE IT "VIBRANT"... now that you can park for free.

Best Place to hang out in a Blizzard

Nothing comes close to it —  being snug under the blankets,  in front of a roaring fire, slippers on, mug of tea or hot chocolate in one hand, and good book or the remote in the other at home. Outside, the wind howls against the window, the snow piles up on the ground, the windows freeze over with ice. And the blizzard is all the sweeter knowing that you'll be calling in sick the next day for 20 cms of fresh. Why not add a little Bailey's to that hot chocolate and make it really worthwhile? You're not going anywhere any time soon.

If, however, you're not at home or on the hill skiing through the trees, the GLC was voted as another good place to wait out the storm.

Best Rainy Day Activity for Family

When it seems like a good idea for your family, chances are dozens of other families are thinking the same thing. And that's why you can never go to the  Meadow Park Sports Centre  without running into someone you know. It is, hands down, the best rainy day activity to wear out the kids, get a little exercise yourself, socialize with the other families and generally just enjoy yourself for the bargain price of $16. That's the drop-in family rate. There's the kids' pool with the lazy river and spouting bears, whose trick never seems to get old. There's the big pool with rope swing, eight-foot slide and basketball net. Let's not forget the sauna and the hot tub. On the other side of the complex there's the ice rink where you can rent skates and helmets and grab some food. There's the squash courts and the fitness centre too. So when the rain's pelting down outside and the kids are getting restless, you know where to go to burn off the energy and restore peace once again.

Favourite Whistlerite

She's just doing some surfing in Jamaica at the moment but even thousands of miles away golden-girl  Ashleigh McIvor  was thrilled to hear the news that Pique readers chose her as Favourite Whistlerite.

"Wow! That's amazing! I love you, Whistler," she wrote in an email this week. "I've just always had a passion for sharing the Whistler spirit that I was brought up with. I always try to take care of Whistler, and its extraordinary people the way Whistler has taken care of me all my life. Thank you.

"Since I clearly don't have the self-discipline to stay away from our sick pow lines when I'm in town, I had to bolt to a beach (with a good gym) until my knee is solid enough to get back at it. I just did a bit of surfing in Jamaica and it's feeling alright. It still really stiffens up after each gym session, which is a bit of a concern. The plan is to get back on snow just after Christmas and play it by ear from there with regards to returning to the World Cup circuit."

Whistler hasn't forgotten our hometown hero who brought Canada gold in skiers cross at the 2010 Games.

Best Example of Whistler Style

People wear them in the office to write their stories or behind the counter when they're serving you coffee. Some are homemade in Whistler, others come from China. They come in every colour, every design, some with pom-poms, others with ear flaps. They used to just keep your head warm on a cold Canadian winter's day, now they're a part of the outfit no matter what the weather, the time of year or if you're inside or out. No matter how you spell it — toque, tuque or touque —  the wool hat  is the definitive Whistler style.

But it wouldn't be the Best of Whistler without a few other shout-outs from some readers — ski boots at night clubs, ski boots at dinner, ski boots to go shopping, ski boots as dress shoes, all made the list as best Whistler style.

Worst Example of Whistler Style

 Pull your pants up  Whistler! We're tired of seeing your undies. The less said on this subject the better.

Most Sustainable Thing Whistler Has Done This Year

The dreaded "s" word — sustainable. It's a word that in many ways the Resort Municipality of Whistler has commandeered. This year, however, the people have taken it back. "Electing a new council" was chosen by readers as the most sustainable thing Whistler has done in 2011. Judging by the tone of the election, voters felt that three consecutive years of tax increases, as the municipal budget ballooned, was nothing if unsustainable. They took matters into their own hands. Not one sitting member of council made it back on. The message was sent loudly and clearly. It still remains to be seen if "electing a new council" is the most sustainable thing Whistler has done. They've got the next three years to prove themselves.

Least Sustainable Thing Whistler's Done This Year

If it's another chance to complain about the saga that is Whistler's  pay parking  story, a saga with more twists and turns than a James Bond thriller, Pique readers will take it (see below). In a complex and convoluted deal, the municipality took ownership of the five village day lots in recent years and in return assumed the cost of operating them (approx. upwards of $300,000 for snow clearing and maintenance annually, which was traditionally paid for by Whistler Blackcomb). The municipality was also on the hook to pay for the capital costs of paving the lots (approx $4.5 million) and it also agreed to build a $6.5 million debris barrier on Fitzsimmons Creek, which it had long argued was not their financial responsibility. You see why we call it a "complex deal."

Not to worry, pay parking was to solve all these financial woes — $8 a day in the winter, $12 a day in the summer. Not so, said the people. We will not pay; we will not go to the village. As fate would have it, the year of pay parking was also an election year. And free parking is now mostly back.

It's worth noting that the asphalt plant, operating beside the Cheakamus Crossing neighbourhood, which was built for the 2010 Games, also got a nod as the least sustainable thing Whistler's done this year, as well as killing bears.

Favourite Lie to tell Tourists

We forget sometimes, living in Whistler, just how commonplace it is to see bears. A bear eating grass outside your kitchen window? No big deal. A bear on the side of the Valley Trail a stone's throw away as you bike by? Nothing out of the ordinary. A bear on the side of the highway? Not worth risking your life for by pulling over on the shoulder to take a picture.

But because we live side by side with the black bears, we forget sometimes what it's like for the tourists who come here and see bears for the first time — up close and personal. And that's why  bear stories  are the best lies to tell the tourists: "the bears are tame," "the bears are mean", "the bears only come out on special occasions," "they like having their bellies scratched", the always popular "you can high five the bears as you're skiing down the mountain" and the bizarre "we keep the bears in a cage under the GLC and let them out in the morning." Really?

Then of course there's the always-popular lies about "Dual Mountain," which is just a little ways up the highway, of course.

Little Known Whistler Factoid

There are little known factoids and then there's the general history of Whistler that everyone knows. Let's start with that: Yes, Whistler Mountain used to be called London Mountain. Yes, Whistler is named after the whistling marmots. Yes, Creekside was the original base. Yes, Whistler was built on a dump.

Here's some we still have to verify.  True or false — you decide: 

• Myrtle Philip's head stone simply says "Whistler 1st lady."

• When it's a full moon and a clear night stand on the sidewalk at Parking Lot 4 and watch the moon rise behind Whistler Mountain. The moon rises behind the 2nd Tower and in the moonlight it looks like an Inukshuk!! Beautiful to watch, done so in summer!!

• Grizzly Bears do exist in Whistler territory!

• "School marm" is where two trees grow in the same place like a V.

• The name "Paula" is written in stone by the Market Place Starbucks.

• The Roundhouse is the largest on-mountain dining facility anywhere in North America, and feeds up to 2,000 people every 30 minutes during peak times.

• Myrtle Phillip had a little baby bear for a pet.

• we are the STD capital of Canada.

• Whistler conference centre was originally designed to be a Junior Hockey arena.

• Function Junction used to be a shanty town in the 1940s.

• Alta Lake used to be called Summit Lake.

Go forth and find us the truth, dear readers. And get back to us.

Most Extreme Thing To Do

 Whistler Bungee  took the top spot with the same votes as heli-skiing and zip trekking combined. We agree. It's extreme... not for the faint of heart. And does it get any better than throwing yourself from a 160-foot (53 metre) bridge, spanning 300 feet (91 metres) over the Cheakamus River surrounded by old growth forest? If you're going to bungee, this is where you do it. If you don't want to bungee you could try living in staff housing or walking along the highway or running for council, all of which got honourable mentions this year too.

Best Party of 2011

If there's one thing that's clear this year it's that Whistler missed  Masquerave  these last five years and we're glad it's back. And hopefully it's here to stay. Masquerave tops the list as the best party of the year. Missed it? You must have heard all about it — the booze, the food, the beautiful ladies, the underground setting, the Cirque de Soleil performers — an evening of decadence to tickle all the senses. Yes, the Bearfoot Bistro's André St. Jacques certainly knows how to throw a party... and this year was no exception. Masquerave got twice as many votes as runner up Cornucopia, which narrowly beat out Crankworx.

Worst Use of Money

The writing was on the wall for this one.  Pay parking  or paving the day lots topped this category in 2009 and 2010 and again this year. The tug of war issue takes the top spot again, turning council on its head and feeding the fodder of dinner table conversation throughout the valley for the entire year. What are we going to talk about now that council has brought back some free parking options? We're sure you'll find something Pique readers!

FOOD & DRINK

Best Overall

Whistler loves its  Rim Rock. According to Best of Whistler voters, the cozy eatery at Creekside is the best overall Whistler restaurant. The percentage of votes cast for the Rim Rock Café leaves little doubt about the restaurant's dominance. The Rim Rock picked up 23 per cent of the votes cast for the many excellent eateries in the resort.

The best overall category win is just one of many for the café. As you read through the results you will quickly see just how popular this café is with its total of six Best of Whistler nods.

Best Latte

There is no category for best coffee shop patio but if there were the  Lift Coffee Company  would win that category along with its best latte award.

The coffee hot spot at the base of the Whistler Gondola is taking the big latte prize for the second year in a row. The baristas open the doors at 6:30 a.m. each day and continue brewing until 5:30 p.m. Along with warm tasty drinks the team at the Lift offer breakfast, lunch and snacks.

Best Breakfast

The favourite place to start the day in Whistler is at either of the  Wildwood Bistro & Bar   eateries. The voting was close in this category with Elements a close second, only eight votes back of the Wildwood. For those keeping track at home Elements is owned by the same parent company.

Located both in Function Junction and by the Whistler Racquet Club on Northlands Blvd. the Wildwood restaurants are also open for lunch. The Northlands Boulevard bistro, which is open for dinner, bills itself as "The Locals' Secret" but feel to share this breakfast gem with everyone.

Best Quick Lunch

This one featured another close vote with  Gone Bakery  edging out Ingrid's Village Café by eight votes.

Location, location, location. It is tucked into a corner and may take a little effort to find but Gone has one of the best spots in all of Whistler, a quiet corner near the often-busy Village Square. Of course, if the food and drink is great in that awesome location then it doesn't take a scientist to figure out that a recipe for success has been cooked up.

If you are eating solo you'll be able to tap into the Gone Bakery Internet service and keep occupied while you savour a quick lunch.

Best Appetizers/Tapas

 Elements  gets the nod for its appies and Tapas in the Summit Lodge.

Soft lighting and copper accents set the mood for this cozy eatery. The Tapas menu items are in the $15 range, with several less than that. Coconut green curry Sautéed Prawns sounds irresistible.

There's a definite trend here as Elements took this honour in each of the last four years.

Best Dessert

Whistler's favourite desserts are found at the  Rim Rock. Remember you are going to see that name a few more times in the food and beverage section of the Best of Whistler.

The Whistler landmark opened in 1987 and over the last 25 years owners Rolf Gunther and Bob Dawson have perfected their craft just off Highway 99 on Whistler's original side.

When you next dine there, and your dessert is presented, savour it knowing many before you have enjoyed the dish.

Best Martini/Cocktail

For the third year running  Mix by Ric's  takes the prize for best cocktail. With Tia Stonier heading up the bar the mixes are always a hit. The latest is a spiced sweet winter drink with an ingredient she mixes up daily featuring cinnamon and ginger used in mulled wine, Manhattans and other cocktails. She says customers are enjoying it hot or cold.

"It has been getting rave reviews and I have had to make it every day," she says because the demand is so high.

Best Wine List

This was predictable. Following the success of the Masquerave event held underground during Cornucopia and hosted by the  Bearfoot Bistro  the restaurant remains Whistler's number one spot for finding a great bottle of wine.

The Bistro is one of only 150 Dom Perignon Houses in the world. For those with a wine budget ranging into multiple figures the Bearfoot Bistro can deliver.

Best Beer Selection

Once again the home of the true pint (20 ounces) takes Whistler's beer category. The  Dubh Linn Gate  opened in 1998 after being designed and handcrafted in Ireland then transported piece by piece around the world to Whistler. The doors open at 8 a.m. for breakfast and stay open until late with Irish classics like Guinness, Kilkenny Cream and Smithwicks on tap, along with local favourites and special selections that keep the selection interesting.

Best Scotch

From beer we move to Scotch and it really isn't much of a move as the  Dubh Linn Gate  Old Irish Pub takes this one as well.

To go with the nightly live music all the popular Glens and Mores are here: Cragganmore 10 year old, Dalmore 12 year old, Glenmorangie 10 year old, Glenfiddich 12 year old and Glenfiddich Solera Reserve. There's also American premium whiskeys like Wild Turkey and Bulleit. Just add ice!

Celebrate New Year's Eve with Murphy's Lagh and if you still have fuel in the tank you can knock back a Scotch Sunday (Jan. 1) with Murphy's Lagh at 7 p.m. followed by the Splinters at 8.

Best Burger

For the ninth (that is not a typo — ninth) year in a row  Splitz Grill  wears the burger crown. It isn't even close, with 48 per cent of the people voting for the best burger indicating Splitz is the place. That translates to 422 people putting their faith in the Splitz beef, chicken and vegetarian offerings.

Best Pizza

This is another example of a runaway win.  Creekbread  fans by the hundreds voted for the wood-oven-baked organic slices at the intersection of Karen Crescent and Drew Drive.

This company dates back to 1998 when George Schenk and Jay Gould met in the hills of Vermont at a small converted barn where Schenk was baking all natural pizzas that he sold in supermarkets and natural food stores. They have since grown and expanded, with every restaurant offering an atmosphere that welcomes families while also giving back to the community.

Best Nachos

At the base of the Wizard Express sits  Merlin's , Whistler's home of the nacho plate. A plate for "too many" rings in at $29 and piles up a mile high.

The drink menu is as long as the food menu so there's an extensive selection of winter drinks, beer and wine to go with the chips, salsa, sour cream and, if you choose, guac.

If it is raining top to bottom and blowing sideways, sharing a mile high stack of nachos at Merlin's with a group of buddies or gal pals is a tasty alternative to finding happiness outdoors.

Best Steak

 Hy's Steakhouse  takes this category. It is hard to go wrong with a restaurant chain that has been around since 1955.

The Whistler location on Main Street features all the classic steak cuts from New York Strip to filet mignon and a 22-ounce Porterhouse. The Filet Steak Neptune features New York or filet mignon, topped with fresh asparagus and blue crabmeat, finished with hollandaise sauce.

Hy Herbert Aisenstat, who got his food industry start in Alberta, would be proud of his family's efforts in Whistler.

Best Sushi

For the one or two people who don't know where  Sushi Village  is located this Whistler landmark is found in the Sundial Hotel on the second level above Showcase Snowboards at Mountain Square.

Mikito Homma, Koji Shimizu, and Toshi Saito came to Whistler in 1984 after hearing about the great skiing at the new resort. They were hooked from the start and the three co-workers decided to bring their restaurant industry knowledge to the mountains so they could be close to the skiing they so loved. Their sushi restaurant opened in '85 and they didn't look back.

Only Homma is still involved with Sushi Village as Saito and Shimizu have retired.

Best Takeout

 Samurai Sushi  wins with the "pick it up and eat it somewhere else" crowd. This popular Japanese cuisine eatery has two locations strategically placed at either end of the valley. This is the third year in a row Samurai Sushi has won in the best takeout division.

The pricing is super competitive and their green initiatives are commendable. The folks at Samurai use sugarcane containers and they compost the food waste generated in the kitchen. The company vehicle runs on Biodiesel, which is produced from the used cooking oil produced at both restaurants.

Best Restaurant for Value

Once again we congratulate  Samurai Sushi .

The Nesters location is licensed so those who like sake or beer with their sushi can enjoy Asahi, Sapporo or a North American beer.

The ideal value package at Samurai may go like this: miso soup, the ten piece roll combo, a beer and green tea ice cream to chase it down. The total investment is a mere $20 with a less than generous tip included. Pull an additional toonie out of your change collection and the staff will welcome you back next time with an extra big smile.

Best When Someone Else Pays

 Rim Rock  again. Is there any need to say more?

Araxi wasn't far behind and Bearfoot placed third. Most of us don't much mind where we eat when someone else is picking up the tab but it sure is nice to enjoy the best when money is no object. Enough said.

Best Atmosphere in a Restaurant

With its two fireplaces and ambient glow the  Rim Rock  also gets the nod for the restaurant with the best atmosphere. The mood is influenced by the large timbers throughout the space and the emphasis on wood from the floor to the ceiling.

The friendly staff (this is a little hint of awards not yet covered) finishes the atmosphere off nicely.

Best Service

There's still more to come for the  Rim Rock Café . Let's recap: Best atmosphere in a restaurant, best when someone else pays, best dessert and best overall. Add best service and note that there's one more award to go for the friendly, smiling staff at the Rim Rock.

Quintessential Whistler Dish

Last year's cuisine supreme was sushi but the mighty fish favourite from Japan has been brought down by the French Canadian delightful dish called  poutine .

It is cheese, French fries and gravy all together in a happy marriage of gastro goodness. Anglophones really do owe one to the Francophones for giving us this tasty bit of comfort food.

It appears the French Canadians did a good job of getting the word out to bypass the fans of Japan. Nachos came a distant third. And based on the international trends put your money on Vegemite to take the top spot next year.

Best New Restaurant

The team at  Alta Bistro  is very pleased with the honour the voting folks of Whistler are bestowing. Alta Bistro joins a number of its Main Street restaurant neighbours in picking up top votes.

Eric Griffith, who was at Umberto's Trattoria and il Caminetto, and Edward Dangerfield, previously with Après, the Rim Rock and La Bocca, came together to open their new venture almost exactly a year ago. They like to focus on locally sourced foods and they lean toward fair-trade, organic and sustainable offerings.

Best Server

This village is full of talented and friendly wait staff so narrowing the field down to one is a tall order. We did it and the one is  Shelley Preist from the Rim Rock. The server of the year is from the restaurant with the best overall service!

Anton Fruehwirth of the Rim Rock is pleased with the news of his establishment's success and Shelley's popularity.

"Really?" he asks when informed of her good news. "That's awesome! She is really good."

He says Shelley has been with the Rim Rock for many years and he describes her as a long-term Whistler resident living with her family in Alpine. Congratulations Shelley — love your work!

Best Chef

And the final food and beverage award goes to RD Stewart at  La Rúa . He takes the award for the second year in a row — an overnight success after 18 years in Whistler. Chef Stewart says his full name is an industry secret but he did let slip that the "R" stands for Ron.

The La Rúa team hosted the Pique Christmas party. The duck was to die for and the steak was huge. Every good chef needs a great team and RD clearly has that at his restaurant.

Congratulations to RD and all the other top vote getters in the food and beverage categories of the Best of Whistler.

BARS, PUBS & CLUBS

Best après

You know you have the market tapped when you're situated at the base of a mountain that ejects hundreds of famished skiers and snowboarders all day, every day.  Dusty's  has it tapped all right — but not only because of its agreeable location and drinkable beer but because of its legendary status. It also helps that the Hairfarmers play there often and there's free parking across the street.

The GLC came in a very close second, losing out by only four votes. We almost wished them better luck next year but since Whistler Blackcomb owns both bars, the loss doesn't seem so dour. It's win-win for ol' WB.

Best bartender

Bartenders are special people. It's not enough to simply pour a drink — bartenders must tend to a patron's feelings. We need to rely on our bartenders in times of need, to share intimate secrets with at inappropriate times. A great bartender should make it feel all right to keep on boozing.

We can only assume Citta's  Stinky , born Jeremy Peterson, has these qualities, otherwise why did he receive all those votes? Because of his rugged good looks? His perfect hair? Naw man, those qualities never last. It's in the heart, man. It's in the way he listens when you're down. It's the way he cracks a joke at just the right moment.

And his ability to pour a beer certainly helps.

Best doorman

This is a tough one because, by nature, doormen can be boorish and unpleasant. Maybe more so in cities but there are a few in every town.

Which is why Maxx Fish's much-beloved  LJ Cunningham  — who is cunning but certainly not a ham, as far as we can tell — rocked this category. LJ, you see, is a nice guy. Take this as a lesson: Be nice. And let women skip the line if they're wearing mini skirts. The winter is so much colder in a mini skirt.

Coolest staff

You know a bar is great when the staff make you feel part of a family. When the management delivers fruit baskets to your home at Christmas. When the waitresses are offering scalp massages after a long day of snowboarding.

The staff at the  GLC  has never done this, but their cool factor is so significant that they don't have to.

Best DJ

2011 was the year that dubstep reached the masses, where the average American male could be seen pumping his fists to Skrillex. It was the year brostep became a word. It was the year dubstep purists retreated to the underground to sulk and take it somewhere else entirely.

And then there's  Mat the Alien , voted Whistler's favourite DJ yet again, who bridges both dubstep purists and brostep ravers by inspiring raised fists while still making the whole dubstep thing still seem like an art worth beholding. That's a major task and Whistler should feel lucky to have him.

Favourite local's hangout

 Citta'  wins this every year. Why? Because it's in the middle of town with a great patio and Whistler's coolest can be seen there, being awesome and loving themselves for it. It's also a cozy little joint where you can make out with each other without even really trying, because it gets so packed in there you often have no choice but to make out with each other. That's Citta', baby.

Favourite patio

As we just mentioned,  Citta'  has a great patio. But it's not just any great patio — it's the best great patio, as voted on by the people of Whistler. It schooled all the other patios in town for one very special reason: it is the best vantage point in town for observing humanity.

Never underestimate the fine art of people watching. Everybody likes to watch people. Some hate people and curse them endlessly. Others relish in the great miracle that is human life. Others still like to laugh at all the bad hair. Whatever the case, Citta' has the best views in town.

Best place to see a live act

Even with the construction of the multi-million dollar Whistler Olympic Plaza,  GLC  slaughtered the competition — absolutely annihilated it — with 37 per cent of the votes. It's one of the few venues in town above ground and the sound ain't half bad. Oh yeah, the staff is way cooler than any other bar in town (see above). And it serves food and booze.

MEDIA ARTS & CULTURE

Best Artist

There's one guy in town and his art hangs in kitchens all over town. His name is  Chilli Thom  and there's a good chance he knew he was going to win this "Best Artist" title because he won last year, and the year before, and on and on into infinity.

He might deserve it though because, as Michel Beaudry wrote in a recent profile, Chilli's paintings channel the Group of Seven and the Grateful Dead, appealing to both sophisticated weekend warriors and mountain-dwelling acid eaters alike. But anyone who's been in town for longer than two months knows what we're talking about. Chilli's, like, famous 'round these parts.

Best Band/Musician

Yup,  The Hairfarmers  have been named Whistler's favourite band again for "umpteenth" year in a row, which is awesome because it allows me to write the stage play I'd been planning without hitting too close to home.

The story's about a musical duo much like The Hairfarmers, who discover, much to their dismay, that they've lost their "Best Band" status to a younger band with longer hair. This propels both members into a spiral of self-doubt, resulting in midlife crises that ends with one joining a Buddhist colony in California and the other to pursuing his lifelong dream of being a professional puppeteer.

Anyway, Whistler's favourite redhead Ali Milner came in second after a highlight year. Let's give a hearty round of applause to both winner and runner up.

Best Public Art

It's a tie here, between painter Chilli Thom and the Olympic Rings. But because this category is for the best actual piece of art, the winner goes to the  Olympic Rings , unless we consider that actual physical specimen that is Chilli Thom a work of art. If so, the tie remains.

Please note that voter turnout on this question was really low, which is an indication that people either aren't at all aware of Whistler's public art; were at a loss to actually identify a piece of public art; or don't care about public art...all of which is depressing and needs to be addressed in the coming year.

Best Event of 2011

With the Olympics gone, Whistler's been left with a hole that only large-scale events can fill. So it's no surprise then that Whistler's most popular annual event, the  TELUS World Ski and Snowboard Festival  took the top spot here. It was banner year for the festival, with top tier competitors and easily the best line up of musicians yet.

And in second? Crankworx. Better luck next year, Crankworx.

Best Film

 All.I.Can , a ski movie that was more than a ski movie, had a massive premier here in Whistler and blew everyone's faces off with its awe-inspiring cinematography and heartfelt story. People are still talking about this film, and, as you can see, voted it Whistler's favourite film.

But still, The Hangover 2 was by far the more exquisite film.

Best Photographer

Some people are obvious winners. Such is the case with  Blake Jorgenson , who somehow makes all his subjects look like Greek gods on skis. It's absolutely no wonder that he's been voted best photographer again. He gets it all the time! But we think it's time to let someone else bask in the glory for once. Scale down the talent already. We have nothing against him but come on! Don't be a phot-HOG-rapher, Blake.

Best quote

It's a tie between Eric Rousseau's uber-positive "Let's make this the best day ever" and the bittersweet anonymous quote "No friends on a Pow Day." What's most remarkable about this is the number of voters for this category. How many votes resulted in this tie? Seven.

Biggest Local News Story

Good-bye asphalt plant! Hello  pay parking , and the people were right to get hysterical.

Go Nancy, for killing pay parking! Three more years!

The killing of Jeanie the Bear deserves a honourable mention, both for the tremor of shock the news caused throughout the corridor and around the world and for the push it gave to news stories everywhere about how it is up to people to bear-proof homes and businesses to try and keep bears alive.

Best Use of Cultural Funding

Despite the controversy that surrounded the RMOW's  Whistler Presents  free concert series, it was agreeable enough that the good people of Whistler have voted it as the best use of cultural funding. And why not? People came together in ways that it hadn't seen since the Olympics. Did you see the crowd at the Barenaked Ladies show? Oh my! Whether the money spent will be good in the long-term is questionable, but in that moment, when everyone was huddled together and singing along to "If I Had a Million Dollars," it certainly felt like a good deal.

Best Website

Less than a year old,  Whistler is Awesome  has swept this category because it captures everything that's awesome about Whistler.

Whistler Blackcomb's website came in second by only one vote, which we're certain will be a huge upset at WB head office and will likely result in a massive restructuring that should see a better performance of its website in this category next year. Stay tuned for further developments via this website (which came in third).

Best Writer

It's been a dramatic year in Whistler, with the community rising up in anger and frustration over, oh, so many issues. And who articulated this anger better than anyone? Pique's very own  G.D. Maxwell , whose cutting insights and witticisms have won over the hearts of all those who voted for him. He's nitty, he's gritty and he's right about 90 per cent of the time. We love you, Max, and may you never ever get a book deal with a considerable advance so that we can keep you forever.

SHOPS & WARES

Best Place for Deals

The number one place for deals is again awarded to the incomparable  Re-Use-It Centre  in Function Junction, Whistler's source for second hand everything. Costumes, sporting equipment, household appliances, books and plenty of old VHS tapes and compact discs. The best time to get the best wares is around moving season in the springtime and late summer, when seasonal workers leave town abruptly and need to offload the contents of their rooms. For deals on the bigger stuff, whether you are building or renovating, check out the sister store, the Re-Build Centre, at the north end of Alpha Lake Road in Function Junction.

BEST Ski Shop

Good ski shops know how to build a loyal customer following.  Fanatyk Co.  has shown again in 2011 that they have the strongest allegiance amongst locals. The closest runner up was Summit Sports. How does the staff at Fanatyk Co. manage to retain the title of Best Ski Shop every year? It's the service.

Kevan Kobayashi, co-owner of Fanatyk Co. says, "We've always tried to be the shop that athletes deserve, whether our customers are die-hard locals or out of town visitors. We all believe that working at a bike shop in the summer time and a ski shop in the winter time is the greatest job in the world."

BEST Bike shop

For all the same reasons as its ongoing domination of Best Ski Shop,  Fanatyk Co.  trumped the Best Bike Shop category. In a town with so many skilled and knowledgeable bike people, it can be tough to stand out. The sales and tech team at Fanatyk Co. offer a level of personalized service to their customers that many other bike shops aspire to match. Whether it's advice on a tube or overhauling your World Cup downhill fork, this crew will look after all of your biking needs. Fanatyk Co. — a place where everybody knows your name, and they're always glad you came.

BEST Snowboard Shop

Whistler's go-to resource for everything snowboard,  Showcase Snowboards  lives and breathes snowboard culture. Everything from the latest equipment to the blingiest accessories can be found in Whistler Blackcomb's flagship retail store. The staff also has the know-how to set you up in the most suitable gear, fine tuning your stance and making sure you're walking out with a smile on your face and some added style to boot.

BEST Grocery Store

Winning by a clear landslide again this year is  Nesters Market . Driving those extra few minutes up the highway is well worth the competitive prices, the fresher produce and the friendly faces. Arguably the most likely place to run into friends in Whistler is at Nesters' checkout lanes, where locals often shout over the heads of others asking how each other's season is going. New this year has been itsexpansion of the pharmaceutical and health food section on the lower level and a wholesale renovation of the interior. They also now accept chip cards — another reason to shop where all the other locals are shopping.

BEST Photo supplies

With every skier and rider in Whistler bent on capturing footage this season, you have to get yourself sorted with some quality still and motion capture equipment — and we're not talking about helmet cams. Whistler's  One Hour Foto Source  has been running their corner shop of photographic goodness for 27 years and has weathered the digital revolution with flying colours. When you are ready to get your favorite shots onto real paper that you can frame and hang, come see the crew at Foto Source.

BEST Financial Institution

 TD Bank  in Marketplace has finally ousted the long-reigning Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) as Whistler's favourite financial institution. The TD now claims longer opening hours than every other bank. Yes, they are even open on Sundays. Could this be the reason TD was voted best financial institution? Possibly. Do they provide the exemplary level of customer service, friendly chat and assistance when you need it most? Definitely. Congratulations to the staff and managers of TD for helping turn boring bank errands into pleasant experiences.

BEST SHOP FOR Browsing and Exploring

The little knick-knack and paddywack store  Skitch  is a treasure-trove for browsers. With all manner of artisan crafts, from wooden carvings to crystal ornaments, Skitch is the perfect place to pick up a unique piece of Whistler to adorn your home or give as a gift. All wares in Skitch are 100 per cent Canadian and hand made, making this a must-browse store as you wander down the Village Stroll.

BEST Shop for Women

This year  Aritzia  returned as the Best Shop for Women, edging out Lululemon by a handful of votes. There are few stores in Whistler to let the ladies enjoy a Vancouver shopping experience, but Aritzia delivers a hint of that and has been crowned the favorite place for women to top up their wardrobes.

BEST Shop for Men

 Showcase  brings home its second title with the Best Shop for Men, most likely because you don't have to be a snowboarder to walk out with something cool from this shop. It's also an awesome place to hang with the bros and watch the loop of sick snowboarding action on the TV screens. If we had a category for "Coolest Retail Store", Showcase would no doubt bring that title home too.

BEST Lawyer

If there is one Whistler lawyer who sets the bar (pardon the pun) it is  Sholto Shaw . Specializing in real estate and corporate commercial law, the London, Ontario native moved to Whistler in 2004 for, yep you guessed it, the outdoor lifestyle. Shaw is a director of the Whistler Chamber of Commerce, the Community Foundation of Whistler and has previously sat on the board of AWARE. And has the reputation as being just an overall nice guy. This will be his fifth consecutive title as Whistler's best lawyer.

BEST Mortgage Specialist

If there is one thing that Whistlerites take seriously, it's their mortgages. And helping ski bums acquire their first homes is the specialty of  Chantal Jackson , who earns the title of best mortgage specialist for the fourth consecutive year.

"Making happy homeowners is my thing" is what she said when she heard the news of her latest accolade. Congratulations on another successful year Chantal!

BEST Realtor

There is no shortage of realtors in Whistler, but when it comes to guiding you through the nerve-wracking experience, you want someone with proven expertise.  Susie Frank  of Whistler Real Estate came out on top in the best realtor category in 2011, followed closely by Amber Mann, also from Whistler Real Estate.

SPORTS & RECREATION

Favourite Whistler Athlete / Best Adult Ski Pro

She's tall and blonde. She surfs better than you, and rides a mountain bike more aggressively than most guys in a town known for its mountain biking. In 2009 and 2010 she also proved that she's one of the best skiers in the world by winning the world championships and the Olympic titles in the sport of ski cross.

Overall, 2011 was a tough year for the Ashleigh McIvor after an ACL injury in her left knee during training for X Games. At the time, McIvor was one of two women who dared the big jump at the bottom, which was eventually resized after organizers realized that it might be a little too big.

After surgery and rehabilitation, she decided to go to Hawaii last spring with her road bike to recuperate after she found herself in the backcountry of Pemberton on a snowmobile — a prime location to reinjure herself.

She plans to return to competition in early 2012.

This is the second year in a row that she has been voted our Favourite Whistler athlete, and the first time she's been recognized as our Best Adult Ski Pro.

But really, the honour is all ours.

Some of the other athletes to make the list with multiple votes include:

• CrossFit strongman Steve Howell — fourth in Western Canada at the trials for the annual CrossFit Games in California this past year.

• Freeski godfather Mike Douglas, who only seems to get better over the years. Before opening day this year he hosted a five-day blog and video series called "Embedded." This fall he also collaborated on The Freedom Chair, a short film featuring Paralympic Josh Dueck doing things on a sitski that really make you wonder about your own limitations.

• Freeride Mountain Bike World Tour — and Crankworx — slopestyle champion Brandon Semenuk, nicknamed "The Silent Assassin" to reflect his soft-spoken personality and the fact that he kills it at ever competition. Some 25,000 people turned out this summer to watch him win at home.

• Canadian halfpipe/slopestyle competitor Mercedes Nicoll, who is consistently in the mix no matter who she's up against.

Others getting multiple votes include trainer Cat Smiley, mountain bike racer Matt Ryan, pro snowboader Maëlle Ricker, pro snowboarder Craig Beaulieu, ski cross racer Julia Murray, disabled ski coach and GranFondo rider Phil Chew, Paralympic nordic athlete (and para-snowboard racer) Tyler Mosher, big mountain phenom Sean Pettit, pro snowboarder Mark Sollors, pro snowboarder Devun Walsh, World Cup skiers Robbie Dixon, cliff-dropper Ian McIntosh, and others. Almost 400 people cast votes, and dozens of athletes received two or more votes this year.

Best Adult Snowboard Pro

This year the friends and fans of local rider Mark Sollors helped him top the list, finishing just ahead of Olympic snowboardcross champion Maëlle Ricker another local athlete who missed most of the past season with an injury.

That's not to say that Sollors, 24, isn't a worthy candidate. He may not be competing for medals or spots in the Olympics, but we can all agree that it takes a special athlete to turn heads and grab the spotlight in a sport with as many excellent athletes as snowboarding.

Sollors is a member of the Burton Global Team for starters, a group that features legends like Shaun White, Terje Haakonsen, Jussi Oksanen, Danny Davis and other heavyweights. He's a respected all-mountain rider that can hold his own in the park, in an urban setting or in the backcountry, and his work in the 2010 video In Color earned him the prestigious 2011 Transworld Rookie of the Year award.

At home, he turned heads during the Grenade Games in 2010, winning the "Most Radical Dude" title against a field of other radical dudes. One of the ways he accomplished this was by straight-lining his way down a dual slalom course through the moguls of Davies Dervish — a World Cup-class slope — crashing slightly near the bottom but somehow winding up back on his feet.

Most recently you might have seen him on the cover of Snowboarder Magazine, promoting his part in his latest film, Standing Sideways.

Sollors is in a class of athletes that doesn't do it for medals, but for the memories — and does it well enough to make a career at it.

"Thank you guys so much for this," wrote Sollors, on his way back from a filming trip with Burton. "I've been here for eight years now and I couldn't be happier to win something like this within the community. Whistler is the end of the yellow brick road for the talented kids who want to snowboad in Canada, so to even be considered for this is awesome."

Maëlle Ricker and Mercedes Nicoll, a veteran halfpipe and slopestyle competitor, tied for second in the votes with Devun Walsh — who won this category in 2009 — placing third.

About two dozen riders got multiple votes, including Craig Beaulieu, Leanne Pelosi, Matt Belzile, JF Pelchat, Kevin Sansalone and Molly Milligan.

Best Kid Ski Pro

The next generation of kids growing up in Whistler have big shoes to fill with two Olympic champions and the top mountain bike freerider in the world all-hailing from the resort. Based on results in competitions, the turnout at local races and events and what you see on the slopes it's safe to say that the shoes are already feeling tight.

The skier with the most votes in this group is Sean Pettit , although technically he turned 19 this year. He's been in the limelight since he was 13 and it's hard to think that he's old enough to buy beer.

Pettit is a big deal in the ski world, winning some of the top big mountain freeskiing events like Red Bull Col Rush, Red Bull Line Catcher, etc. He's also been featured in about a dozen movies, including the last four Matchstick Productions flicks. In 2011, he received "Best Male Performance" at the IF3 Europe Awards and "Best Powder" at the 2011 Powder Video Awards.

Kye Petersen was the runner-up in this group, although he's even older than Pettit turning 21 this year — old enough to buy beer in the U.S.

The Pehota brothers, Logan and Dalton, tied for third on the list, but could have been ranked first because they actually are minors. Logan turned 16 this year, and Dalton will be old enough to drive in 2012.

Best Kid Snowboard Pro

Finn Finestone has never been one to be intimidated by anything, and when he started to show up at events like the King of the Rail series a few years ago he seemed oblivious to the fact that he was two feet smaller than the other competitors.

Jody Wachniak finished second in the voting. He has a few videos on YouTube if want to see why.

Best Run on Whistler Blackcomb

Last season was incredible, the second best season on record for snowfall going back almost 45 years. And more important than the total centimetres of snowfall — 1,579 cm from November to May, including a record February of 259 cm — is the way it fell. Instead of a bunch of big dumps it seemed like it snowed a little every day. The closest thing we had to a drought was a short period in January when the sun came out, but even then an above average 195 cm was reported.

The amount of snow ultimately determines where you can ski and snowboard. On an average year people spend a lot of time on groomers while in a season like 2011 you can pretty much go anywhere.

Peak to Creek has won this award four years in a row now, and for good reason. It's definitely the longest run in the resort with a drop of 1,600 metres from top to bottom, and it's not all that steep if you like making big turns. On a powder day it's fun to see how long you can hold a straight line down the run before the lactic acid becomes too much.

In a four-way tie for second were Million Dollar Ridge, Ridge Runner, Rock and Roll and the runs of Spanky's Ladder. The Khyber area was third by a single vote.

Best Coach

The biggest trend in fitness these days is the cross-training, with short, intense workouts that combine everything from aerobic training to core strength to building muscles. It's an important development, combining all the different workout philosophies into a single program that, unlike most diets and home fitness equipment, actually works.

Chances are you know a few people that are in Boot Camp with Cat Smiley or at CrossFit Whistler with Jordan Glasser , who tied for this year's Best Coach honours.

Rob Boyd stepped back from the national team after the Olympics, and is back coaching with the Whistler Mountain Ski Club. He was number three on the list this year.

Other coaches to get multiple nods include Erica Finnsson at the Whistler Skating Club, disabled ski coach Phil Chew, Core trainer John Blok, bike coach Katrina Strand, ski cross coach Willy Raine, trampoline coach Louise Stack, hockey coach Bob Andrea, ski coach Ryan Jazic, ski coach Tom Prochazka, freeski coach Chris Turpin, halfpipe coach Mike Shaw, triathlon coach Christine Suter and CrossFit coach Steve Howell (runner up for Favourite Athlete).

Best Bike Trail

A River Runs Through It started off this season with a major reroute and the construction of a new bridge over 19 Mile Creek after the last one washed out last year. The new route bypasses a few older features, which disappointed a few riders, but the new section of trail is well built and overall it's a better, less intimidating ride. Some mountain bikers nervous with heights said they pedalled across the creek for the first time ever.

Second on the list this year was the Lost Lake trail network, which gets a little bigger every year — this year with a new line completed in the fall that adds some flow to the Zappa Trails.

Third was Kill Me Thrill Me, which combines every type of riding onto one trail — big rocks lines, root and rock lines, high-speed singletrack and White Knuckle descents.

In fourth was Comfortably Numb, although when you combine votes for this 25km epic with Yummy Numby — which bypasses most of the Comfortably Numb ride to get to the famous descent — then Comfortably Numb would have been third on the list. The Yummy Numby climb adds something pretty cool to the trail network, including a way to ride Comfortably Numb backwards while minimizing the hike-a-bike factor significantly.

Best Bike Park Trail

The Whistler Mountain Bike Park is one of the most exciting things ever to happen in the resort. It's completely changed the industry, from bikes to riding styles, to the point where the park has become the model ski resorts around the world aspire to — with Whistler Blackcomb's blessing — as they were savvy enough to realize that they were on the forefront of creating a whole new category for recreation.

Typically Pique's Best of Whistler has had just one category for bike trails, but this year we decided to make a separate category to find out what people are riding in the park. According to our voters, Crank It Up is the best trail in the park right now, combining votes for the distinct upper and lower sections of the course. It's definitely one of the most rideable — beginners can enjoy the flow and experienced riders can push it by including some optional wall rides and by getting air off the features. The Phat Wednesday race on Crank It Up is now one of the most popular, and the trail was also featured in the women's-only Betty vs. Veronica race this past summer.

A-Line ranked second on the list, followed by Dirt Merchant.

All of the top three trails are machine-built, high-speed trails with lots of features to catch air and big berms in the corners, although hand-built trails got a lot of votes as well.

Best Indoor Sport

Whistler, like most of Canada, loves its hockey. One arena supports three leagues — Men's A, Rec and women's, a full range of minor hockey teams (including a girls' team) and even a few rep teams. To field a rep team you need to have at least one house team in that age category, and the fact that we can sometimes field two teams in a town where 100 students would be a large grad class — and where many of the students are also enrolled in ski and snowboard school — is pretty neat.

Hockey was voted Whistler's top indoor sport by a landslide this year.

Swimming was second in the voting, followed by the "Other" category that includes multiple votes for yoga, Cross-Fit, Boot Camp, Sex, trampoline, dodgeball, climbing, figure skating and playing sports video games.

Best Outdoor Sport

It takes a special kind of person to move to a town where summer can sometimes be measured in weeks while the winter can start in mid-October and last through the end of May — especially when you can find a much nicer climate a half hour north and south down the Sea to Sky Highway.

It's no surprise that the majority of voters picked alpine skiing as their favourite outdoor sport, with snowboarding placing a close second by just seven votes in a category with close to 1,000 responses.

Mountain Biking, as always, was third on the list to make it the best summer activity.

Best Toonie Ride Sponsor

The crew at FantaykCo and Uli's Flipside put on a mean Toonie Ride, and this year took the most votes in this category. Their race was on August 18, and gave riders an option — North Flank from start to finish or a diversion onto Billy's Epic.

The Whistler Real Estate / Race and Co. / Milestones event placed second. That event was on Aug. 4 and featured a mix of trails on Blackcomb and in Lost Lake.

Third was a tie between the Fineline / Scandinave Spa / Shaw Cable / and Pure Bread ride on Sept. 1 following Comfortably Numb to the turnoff to the Green Lake Loop, and the Whistler Brewing / Cascade Environmental / Brent Harley & Associates / Gone Bakery / Whistler Village Sports ride on Trash and the Sea to Sky Trail on July 7.

Best Bike Tech

Keeping your wheels true, your brakes buffered your shifters shifting, your cranks turning and your suspension rebounding is hard, incredibly technical work. Anyone who has ever tried to do any of these things themselves can appreciate how important it is to have a good bike mechanic.

Our voters picked FanatykCo's Kevan Kobayashi as the top wrench-man in Whistler this year, followed closely by James Barrett at The Fix.

Best Adventure Tour / Best Activity Provider

Ziptrek Ecotours was once again voted Whistler's Best Adventure Tour, for its 10 lines and over 2.3 kilometres of cable to fly on. It also got the most votes in the Best Activity Provider category.

In fact, the tour is so popular that there are franchises in New Zealand and California, and Ziptrek regularly branches out to host zip lines at events like the Grey Cup in 2010 and has been running a line in San Francisco the past two summers.

Following ZipTrek in the Best Adventure Tour category was Canadian Snowmobile Adventures, which operates sled tours, ATV tours, snowshoe tours, dogsled tours, jeep tours, canoe tours and dinner/fondu tours using snowmobiles and snowcats. They also play host to avalanche, snowmobile, first aid and guide courses.

In the Best Activity Provider category, Whistler Blackcomb placed second to Ziptrek, while Canadian Snowmobile Adventures placed third.

Best Heli-Ski Run

As big as Whistler Blackcomb is — and it's the biggest mountain resort in North America — the entire resort could fit inside the tenure of our local heli-ski companies. The backcountry is vast, providing endless lines in snow that's almost always fresh. Add in all the Crown land outside of parks where you can charter a helicopter drop, and the appeal of a chopper is obvious.

This year voters split their vote between drops on Mt. Currie and drops on Rainbow Mountain , with Mt. Currie winning by a few votes.

HEALTH & FITNESS

Best Health Trend

Eating eight grapefruits a day is a health trend. The Shakeweight is a health trend. Yoga has topped this list so many times that it stopped being a trend five years ago and segued into a full-blown lifestyle.

Ditto for Crossfit, which was number two on the list this year. In the seven years since the first CrossFit gym was established in 2005 the movement has spread globally, with over 2,000 gyms around the world. Under Jordan Glasser, CrossFit Whistler got into the game early and has only grown since the gym was established.

Other trends to get multiple votes include Boot Camp, road cycling, roller derby, Zumba, the raw food diet, herbal teas, climbing and the Mila chia seed supplement.

Favourite Personal Trainer

Jordan Glasser at CrossFit is diabolical. His tasks are challenging, his circuits hit every muscle group and the atmosphere is relentless. You can never win at CrossFit, as the program is designed that it scales with a person — the stronger, fitter you are, the more you do. To get a sense of what that's like at the highest level, go to YouTube and do a search for "CrossFit Games."

"I don't know what to say other than the obvious thank you," said Glasser.

"I have one of the best, most rewarding jobs in the world. I teach a great program and work with even better people. I'm honoured."

Second on the list this year is Boot Camp trainer Cat Smiley. The Boot Camp program is similar in that it stacks exercises to create a full-body and aerobic workout, but it uses less equipment and classes are outside. The motivation technique has military overtones, which can seem harsh but are completely effective. Anyone who's ever had a hard coach isnsports can appreciate that it gets results.

John Blok at the Whistler Core Fitness Centre was a close third on the list, both for his spin classes and his cross-training circuits. Keeping up in Blok's classes is tough, but what motivates is knowing that he's doing all the same things you are and somehow manages to talk normally while you're gasping for air.

Best Fitness Facility

It's tough to beat the Meadow Park Sports Centre for a workout. Meadow Park has a huge workout room, a well-stocked cardio room, spaces for stretching and mat workouts, a multi-purpose room where you can take a wide range of fitness classes, squash courts, a pool with dedicated swim lanes, a skating rink and, when you're muscles need it, a sauna, steam room and hot tub.

The Whistler Core Fitness Centre was second on the list this year, with a gym, cardio machines, multipurpose rooms for a wide variety of classes and the town's only indoor climbing gym.

CrossFit Whistler's gym in Creekside was third on the list, with all the equipment you need to improve strength and endurance in one room.

Best Spa

The Scandinave Spa seems to have found a winning business model in a resort that has no shortage of spa experiences to choose from. They've reached out to locals with special deals and passes, they've supported events like Toonie Rides, they've given countless passes to charities and non-profits to auction off, and as a result they've built a huge base of regular customers.

The facility includes a steam room, sauna, hot pools, cold pools that you move between, as well as a full range of spa services like massage. Visit www.scandinave.com for more.

Second on the list is the Whistler Day Spa at the Loft Salon, which offers massage, facials, manicures, pedicures and waxing.

Finishing a close third is the Spa at the Four Seasons, which offers a Vichy "lie down" shower room, eucalyptus steams rooms, an ice shower, fitness classes and a wide range of massages and treatments for the body, face, hands and feet.

Best Chiropractor

An appointment with Dr. Pat Shuen at Whistler Chiropractic is an eye-opening experience. A nudge here, a crack there and you're two inches taller with a full range of motion.

Dr. Shuen is never one to blow his own horn, but thanked all of his customers.

"I appreciate it, it means that people appreciate the effort I put into my treatments. In a way it's kind of embarrassing, but in a good way I suppose.

"The biggest thing for Keith and I and Jacqueline (Brusset) is that we've been here a long time, and we're established and living here and working here. We live and play here, too, and want to provide the best possible service for our friends and neighbours."

Dr. Keith Ray, also at Whistler Chiropractic, finished second by a few votes this year while Dr. Heather Johnson at Village Centre Chiropractic and Massage was third.

Best Doctor

Once again the award goes to Dr. Cathryn Zeglinski at Northlands Medical Clinic, making it six years in a row she's won the honour — every year since her clinic opened, in fact.

Dr. Zeglinski started the clinic with a modern approach, keeping electronic records that she can ship around the world, something many of her athlete-patients like because they need that information handy when they travel.

Second on the list this year is Dr. Karin Kausky who works at the Whistler Medical Clinic along with Dr. Tom DeMarco, who came in third.

Best Medical Clinic

The award for the best clinic goes to the folks at the Whistler Medical Clinic , followed by Northlands, followed closely by Town Plaza Medical Clinic.

Best Physiotherapist

Radiohead might be right, and "gravity always wins," but with the right physiotherapist at your back you can put up a pretty good fight.

In Whistler, that physiotherapist is Allison McLean at Peak Performance Physio. She has won the Best of Whistler award seven times since her first win 2002, which says a lot considering the number and quality of therapists in town — and what her clients are doing with/to their bodies.

"I feel honoured to have such support from the community and it's a real privilege to work with the dedicated and high-calibre team of therapists at Peak Performance," she said. "And I also feel lucky being Whistlerite, and being able to access the amazing expertise of a whole health came team here."

Bianca Matheson at also at Back in Action Physiotherapy was second in the votes this year. Third went to Mike Conway at Back In Action.

Best Massage Therapist

You can soak in hot tubs, knead at your muscles with rollers and knobs, sit in vibrating easy chairs, but nothing beats hands when it comes to untying knots, releasing tension and relaxation.

For the second year in a row the Magic Hands Award goes to Magdalena Regdos of Peak Performance Physiotherapy.

Leslie Byford was second in the votes, followed closely by Maribeth Callaghan.

Best Dentist

There's a lot to smile about in Whistler, and Dr. James McKenzie at Whistler Dental is one of them — the winner of the Best Dentist award for more years that we can count.

Dr. Phil Gaudin at Creekside Dental is second on the list, with Dr. David Perizzolo at Aarm Dental Group in third.

Best Dental Clinic

The staff at Creekside Dental is number one according to our voters, followed by Whistler Dental and Aarm Dental Group.

Best Hairstylist

For a town with our heads crammed into helmets, toques and hats most of the time, we clean up nicely. One of the reasons is that we have some incredible hairstylists that could probably be working for big salons down in the city, but caught the ski bug the same as us.

The year the best stylist in town was Myranie Allard at Farfalla, followed by Sarah Williamson at The Loft and independent stylist Amanda Steele.

Best Hair Salon

As good as it is to have a regular hairstylist, sometimes your schedules aren't going to line up. When that happens you head to the salon you trust. The folks at Farfalla , located on the Village Stroll beside Ric's Mix, got the most votes this year, followed by The Loft on Main Street. Good Hair Day in Function was a close third.

Best Esthetician

Some people are born with great looking skin and can go their whole lives without getting a single pimple. Others have to work at it, which is why a good esthetician is girl's best friend.

Lindy Scott at Farfalla received the most votes this year, followed by Emily Matthews at Farfalla and Stacey Gaff at the Whistler Day Spa.

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