From vision to reality 

At the peak of their profession, Whistler's Ecosign designs the world's snowy playgrounds

click to flip through (2) PHOTO BY TOM BEAR FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, COURTESY OF ECOSIGN - Paul Mathews
  • Photo by Tom Bear for the wall street journal, courtesy of ecosign
  • Paul Mathews
 
 

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"He is the guy that really made it happen in terms of vision and how this mountain was put to the next level and we became the number one ski resort in the East for 16 consecutive years," said Malo. "He thinks like a skier and makes sure that the design he recommends for the mountain is based on the experience of the skier."

Mathews doubled the number of lifts from seven to 14, without cutting many trees and jeopardizing the environment and feel of the mountain, said Malo.

Some 30 years after Mathews was inspired by a trip to Zermatt, he was hired by the Swiss resort to fix it.

According to Hans Peter Julen, president of Zermatt Bergbahnen, four different companies had run the ski resort, which is home to the famed Matterhorn, and were more interested in making money than in the skiing experience.

"In 2002, there was a merger and all the companies came together and we asked Paul to make a new master plan for the whole Zermatt ski area," said Julen. "We invested about $350 million between 2002 and 2012 and the old ski area is now unrecognizable. It's completely renewed."

Two years ago, Mathews was back in Switzerland, studying a way to connect Zermatt with Cervino, a neighbouring ski area in Italy.

"Now he's studying ways of connecting two other neighbouring ski areas to us," added Julen.

The Zermatt resort's board of directors visited Whistler this summer to see how the village works during the Crankworx Freeride Mountainbike Festival.

"We looked at the Peak 2 Peak — a fantastic installation," said Julen. "We are planning to put one in our area, when we have the money."

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