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Whistler's outdoor skating rink set to open Dec.13

First 100 snow sliders to dress like Santa on Saturday will ski for free

You will be able to swap your rain boots for skates this weekend as Whistler gets set to open its outdoor rink at Olympic Plaza on Saturday.

The popular attraction saw 24,000 skates rented out last year to enjoy the 11,347-square-foot outdoor rink, compared to 16,000 in the 2012/2013 season. If you have your own skates you can enjoy the ice surface for free.

The facility was funded with $1.4 million in provincial Resort Municipality Initiative (RMI) funding when proposed in 2011- at that time the ice surface was temporary. The permanent facilities were put in place in 2012. This year the attraction will use, $127,922 in RMI funding to operate until early April.

"Through provincial RMI contributions, the Resort Municipality of Whistler has invested in a variety of projects, such as the ice rink at Whistler Olympic Plaza, and a wide range of programs to grow tourism," said Whistler Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden.

"It's exciting each winter to see the return of skating at Whistler Olympic Plaza - a much-loved amenity for visitors and residents."

Jordan Sturdy, MLA for West Vancouver-Sea to Sky, will join Wilhelm-Morden to officially open the rink and for a skate with members of the Whistler Skating Club starting at 11 am on Saturday Dec.13. - cupcakes will be served.

The facility will be open for the first public skating session from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. with a one-hour closure for ice cleaning at 2 p.m.

Said Sturdy: "Outdoor skating in winter at the Whistler Olympic Plaza rink is a true Canadian experience, which attracts visitors and locals alike. Our community benefits from RMI funding through investments in facilities and programming, which enhance the guest experience, promote tourism and support Whistler's international success."

Skating at Whistler Olympic Plaza admission is free-of-charge, and skate rentals are only $5. Strollers are welcome and helmets are available to rent free-of-charge.

This Saturday will also see the annual Dress Like Santa Day on Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains.

Skiers and riders of all ages are invited to dress like Santa or Mrs. Claus and bring festive fun to the slopes. A free lift ticket will be awarded to the first 100 people to arrive at the Garibaldi Lift Company, at the base of Whistler Mountain, in full Santa or Mrs. Claus attire.

All Santa and Mrs. Claus's will upload the Whistler Village Gondola at 8:00 a.m., then ski or ride to the bottom of Emerald Express for a group photo.

After a week of wild weather, Whistler Blackcomb will open the alpine on both Whistler and Blackcomb mountains on Saturday as well with Peak Chair on Whistler, and 7th Heaven Chair on Blackcomb ready to go.

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