Whistler-Blackcomb recovered some ground in SKI Magazines annual ranking of resorts this year, moving from fifth place to third.
While the change has people in the resort smiling, magazine executive editor Greg Ditrinco said the top five are so close the shift is really statistically unimportant.
Even so Ditrinco, who skied Whistler-Blackcomb last year, believes the mountains are in for a good run as the resort ramps up for the 2010 Games and embraces some new amenities such as the bobsled-luge run.
"I think you are due for another round of first-time visits from a lot of people as the resort and the media ramps up for the Games," he said from his Colorado office. "(They are two great) mountains and it is a great village with a lot going on there. I think the star is on the rise again as you folks ramp up to the 2010 Games."
The improvement in ranking was well received at Whistler-Blackcomb.
"We are thrilled to be once again recognized as one of the top resorts in the world and it is fabulous that we have moved up two spots," said Stuart Rempel, vice-president of marketing and sales for Whistler-Blackcomb.
"People use this information. They use it as one of the sources of information for their vacation choices."
Whistler was in the top 10 ranking in 12 of the categories. It was ranked #1 for terrain, #2 for apres, #3 for lifts, #5 in service, #3 in lodging, #4 in dinning, and #10 in family programs, just to mention a few.
The magazine rankings are important tools said Rempel.
"They are a barometer of what people think about your product."
Deer Valley, Utah took the number one spot this year, moving up from second place last year. Vail, Colorado moved down from first spot to second. Fourth place went to Snowmass, Colorado, ranked third last year, and Park City, Utah, moved up from eighth to fifth.
According to readers it was Deer Valleys attention to offering outstanding customer service that put them on top.
And Park Citys impressive jump can be laid at the foot of the 2002 Winter Olympics, which it helped host.
Ditrinco said the SKI Magazine readers are not just looking for good skiing anymore.
"If you look at the top resorts not only do they have the skiing, which you have to have, they also have the restaurants, the lodging, the service and amenities," he said.
"Keeping amused and busy both on the hill and off, more and more that is what the American family wants. If you are a family going to a resort you almost expect to have a tubing hill now. You used to be surprised by these nice ad-ons but now people expect them.
"So now the resorts that stay ahead in our rankings are those which anticipate the next amenity that needs to be brought in."
A new tubing park will be opened this year on Blackcomb and a family zone will be expanded on Whistler Mountain.
More than 2,500 SKI Magazine subscribers of two or more years are surveyed by an independent research firm for the "Top 50 Resorts" guide, on newsstands now.
Respondents must have skied the resorts for the past two seasons.
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