From top to bottom, the Peak to Valley Race will go back to its full extension for the 2016 edition.
Last year's race was hindered by warm weather, resulting in the course ending at Vuarnet Road instead of taking racers all the way to the valley.
"We're going to be able to make it to the valley this year, which we weren't able to last year, so that's quite exciting," said Colleen Ikona of the Whistler Blackcomb events department.
"We are rapidly putting up all the gates and it looks like it's going to be a good race this year."
Ikona noted the recent above-freezing conditions might result in a few tweaks to the course, primarily in the Lower Franz's area. Snowmaking equipment is not able to access that area of Whistler Mountain and enough of the natural snow has disappeared that organizers are pondering their backup options for the Feb 19-20 race. Ikona said they would analyze the sections yesterday (Wednesday, Feb.17) and make a decision.
"We have lost a little bit of snow on that section (Lower Franz's). The snowmaking snow doesn't melt as quickly in warm, wet weather, so it lasts on Dave Murray in the conditions right now. What we might likely do is go down the upper part of Lower Franz's and then head right over towards Lower Dave Murray, following the women's Olympics course," she said. "It shouldn't affect the course. We'll still have the same number of gates, the same elevation change and things like that."
All told, the course will run 5.6 kilometres with a vertical drop of 1,443 metres with roughly 180 gates. It'll be a return to what makes the race so challenging and a must-do on the bucket list of many skiers.
"In the 32 years, we've only had to do the short course three or four times, so it's good news to be back to what makes it that truly once-in-a-lifetime race with that full elevation change," Ikona said.
Ikona said as of Feb. 16, 77 of the 80 spaces allotted for teams had been filled. Those looking to register can do so at www.whistlerblackcomb.com/events-and-activities/events/2016/02/peak-to-valley-race.
Competitors must be 19 or older, feature at least one woman on the team while having no more than one professional skier on each squad. Categories will be determined by the combined age of the team's four participants.
Racers will primarily be from the Sea to Sky corridor, though Ikona said there are regular attendees from Ontario and south of the border.
"We have six teams that come up from Washington (state) as a big group. They have their own little awards as well," she said. "They've been doing it for years."
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