Over half of the riders and skiers on Whistler Blackcomb last
weekend rode on the just opened Peak 2 Peak gondola.
“Things went extremely well,” said Dave Brownlie, president and
COO of Whistler Blackcomb.
“The first weekend was great. People rode it, loved it, and we
had lots of great feedback.”
Not even the gusting winds of up to 60 km/h on Saturday could
keep the sky cabins in their barn.
“…There was no problem… it was smooth,” said Brownlie.
The opening event on Friday, Dec.12 was web cast and over
13,000 user sessions were logged for the event.
“…And there were big groups watching too, like the groups at
Myrtle Philip School,” said Brownlie.
“All the feedback on the web cast was really positive.
“It was a great day for everybody that came out and it was
really a celebration of Whistler and Whistler Blackcomb.
“People have said: ‘Oh, it is a tough time for you guys to be
doing this.’ But actually it is a great time. We are coming out with a great
new lift and attraction, something to talk about, and it will definitely bring
more people here.”
Stories about the Peak 2 Peak appeared in dozens of overseas
print media and on international television as it captured the excitement and
awe of mountain lovers.
It was no different right here at home.
“You know it really was amazing,” said 90-year-old George
Huxtable, one of the 22 contest winners who got to ride in the very first
gondola from Blackcomb to Whistler.
“I thought I died about eight times,” he said.
“I enjoyed it. I enjoy everything. That is why I am still
skiing at 90.”
Said son Gordon: “It was very fun. It was smooth, it has a
great view and it was very high up but it didn’t fall off. It was spectacular.
I think it is a great part of our diversification.
“It certainly makes it so easy and painless to get back and
forth. You could have lunch over there and coffee over here. I was amazed at
just how easy it was to get back and forth.”
Asked if he would ski both hills he replied: “In a heartbeat.”
For Whistler dentist James McKenzie and wife Janis, the
11-minute ride from Blackcomb to Whistler on one of the glass-bottom gondola
cabins gave them just enough time to renew their wedding vows.
“We wanted to renew our vows, and it was wonderful,” said James
Said wife Janis: “It was unbelievable. We got married up on
Whistler 11 years ago and this just all fell into place, and we did it in 11
Paralympian and coach of the B.C. Disabled Ski Team, Phil Chew,
was also in the first gondola.
“It was smooth,” he said. “You didn’t even feel going over the
towers, and even though it wasn’t the clearest day you could see 1,400 feet
down to the bottom of the valley to Fitz Creek.”
“I think it will be great for skiing. At the beginning I didn’t
know what to think of it, but now I can see the potential. I can see that it is
really going to make a big difference.”
The gondola has the longest unsupported span for a lift of its
kind in the world at 3.024 kilometres. It is also the highest lift of its kind
off the ground.
Even Dan Doyle, the head of venue construction for the
Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Games, came to Whistler to take a
“It was phenomenal,” he said.
“What a great thing to bring to Whistler. I wanted to come to
see it because I am an engineer, and this is a phenomenal feat. Look at the
towers, look at the cables, and the cars. It is fantastic.
“We think the Games are going to show the world what Whistler
Blackcomb is all about, and now we will be able to show them this as well. It
will be great.”
Whistler Blackcomb’s Brownlie could hardly contain his
excitement in announcing the opening Friday.
With an ear-splitting smile he told the huge crowd that when he
first heard of the idea from Hugh Smythe he just smiled and went back to work.
But once the 2010 Games were awarded and Whistler Blackcomb
consistently drew over two million skier visits, they knew they had to look to
“At Whistler Blackcomb we have always dreamed big, and we have
always been bold, and the Peak 2 Peak is all about that,” he said to an
“Building on the top of two mountains after two big snow years
in what can only be described as an overheated building environment, to deliver
this project on time and on budget has been a huge, huge accomplishment.
“The Peak 2 Peak gondola is about inspiration, and it is about
dreams. It will take our guest experience to an entirely new level, and it will
inspire people to come from around the world and enjoy our playground.”
Premier Gordon Campbell was supposed to be on-hand to help open
the Doppelmayr 3S gondola, but a snowstorm kept him in Vancouver.
Said Gary Lunn, federal Minister of State for Sport, who was in
Whistler for the opening: “Last night we talked to the weather gods, and we
said do we want snow or do we want the Premier today, and we got snow. You can
never have too much snow. We love the Premier but we love snow.
“There is no question that this ski resort is the best in the
world, and the new Peak 2 Peak is such an impressive marvel of technology.”
B.C.’s minister of transportation, Kevin Falcon, was also on
hand for the event, telling an audience of hundreds that the gondola will help
put B.C. on the map around the world.
“The Peak 2 Peak is going to be an iconic symbol of a world
class resort,” he said.
The Peak 2 Peak runs everyday and is included in most lift tickets.