Whistler’s mountain culture found at Higher Ground
By Amy Fendley
A lot of stuff is written, but there is a lot of design stuff that needs to be done before next week’s launch. It’s called Higher Ground Magazine and its on-line world debut is Nov. 5.
The internet magazine, produced by Whistler/Blackcomb’s interactive media team, will be updated every second Thursday and will feature a combination of half a dozen new features on snow-culture, lifestyles and specific up and coming events. There will be zones where you can access columnists, letters to the editor, photo essays and the artistry of Oliver Roy, known for his Boarder Bob cartoon strip in Snowboard Canada Magazine.
Higher Ground will have four regular writers, Angela McKerral, Freda Robin, Roy and another yet to be confirmed.
"We have a lot of big name contributors," said Rahoul Ghose, editor and photographer of Higher Ground. "Chris Kent, formerly of the national ski team, Rob Boyd, and Steve Podborski will write an interview column called From One Crazy Canuck to Another, his first interview will be with Ross Rebagliati. We’re honoured to have him involved with the project."
Ghose is excited about the prospect of having fresh stories reflective of a Whistler lifestyle that he feels has yet to be tapped.
"Being a web page, if a sports story breaks in the middle of the day during the World Cup, you will be able to access the information within the same day, sooner than a regular paper.
"The first issue is still working out itself, but it will be a balanced piece in terms of style. Less formal, the latest trends, and reflective of what the mood is in Whistler. The possibilities for this are endless. This is not a small circulation, we get to capture Whistler and broadcast throughout the entire world."
Higher Ground is a separate entity from Whistler/Blackcomb’s regular web page. "Snowculture, Whistler style" is Higher Ground’s motto, and they are stickin’ to it.
"We have a web site that allows everyone to see Whistler/Blackcomb’s stats, prices and etceteras," says Kevin Stunder, interactive media team leader. "Higher Ground Magazine will allow all to feel and experience this place that the lucky souls who live here get to call home. We have a good thing here and want to share it with the world.
"London has Trafalgar Square, Amsterdam has Speaker’s Corner, this will be Whistler’s point of expression... please, keep those nude local celeb stories coming."
The genesis for Higher Ground was last year’s Whistler/Blackcomb web page, which was recognized at last year’s National Ski Area Association meeting.
"The stuff we did on our $40,000 budget, got more mention than Vail’s $1 million site," said Stunder.
That motivated Stunder and others, who had new ideas about content, information and usage patterns and were optimistic about the potential surrounding the medium.
This year, a whole new Whistler/Blackcomb web page is being re-designed for Intrawest by IBM, a major sponsor of the project.
The possibility of wrapping Higher Ground around the year will be determined based on an internal log of feedback.
"A lot of people want to be involved with this because it is extremely good exposure," says Ghose. "Out mandate is to produce pages throughout the winter and run a Whistler/Blackcomb page year round."
There are four major people in the workshop of Higher Ground. In addition to Stunder and former Whistler Question editor Ghose they are: Karla Grenon, head of marketing and advertising; and Neil Sancourt, engineer and designer.
Pique will run a Best of the Web Page which will include some of Higher Ground’s features and photos, and Higher Ground will run Pique’s up-to-date entertainment listings.
"So far, so good," says Ghose. "We’ve got a really good staff who work well together, everyone is motivated and challenged, and there are endless possibilities."
Higher Ground is open to local submissions and is planning a local’s launch night, inviting local writers, cultural icons, artists and editors.
Higher Ground will be available through the Whistler/Blackcomb web site: www.whistler-blackcomb.com