A tale of two mornings — early season extremes at Whistler Blackcomb 

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Like the three young gals who somehow found a way to ease themselves under my umbrella while I wasn't watching. They were grade-niners at Whistler High, they told me. And they just loved skiing. Couldn't wait to get back on their boards. That's why they'd gotten up so early this morning, they said. That's why they'd convinced one of the moms to drive them out to the hill before her first coffee. "It's Opening Day," said one of them, with the kind of inflexion that assumed I knew exactly what she meant. And I did. "After all," she concluded, "there's only one opening day per season. It would be a shame to stay in bed and miss it just because the conditions aren't perfect. Don't you think?" Ah, from the mouth of babes...

Bob Dufour was there of course. WB's venerable VP of Operations, ol' Dufour, I think, loves the Creekside opening as much as the rest of us do. Besides, he too knows how to dress for the weather. He didn't have an umbrella but... decked out in his waterproof duster, he looked as comfortable out there as a duck in a pond. And he seemed to be genuinely enjoying himself. And why not?

There are few traditions left from Whistler's ski-bum glory days. Nude windsurfing, alpine pig roasts — the always-amusing Freakers' Ball — they're all gone. Fortunately, the one that most defines us as a snowsliding community — Opening Day — still exists. And like all of Whistler's best traditions, it totally defies boundaries. Doesn't matter whether you're a 14-year old grade-niner in pigtails or a 58-year old near-bald ski-wreck — a reefer-toking dread-locked anarchist or a perfectly-groomed, phone-in-the-ear real estate agent — standing in that line-up on the first day of the year is like taking mountain-church communion together. It unites us all. Reminds us what this place was meant to be. How powerful the snowsliding bond really is.

But it's almost like an underground thing. A Grateful Deadish kind of event that attracts only the die-hards. And it shouldn't be.

Heck, if I were running this town, I'd have a full-on Festival Of First Snow at this time of the year. Parties. Demos. Movies. Debates. Panel discussions. And even more parties. I'd plug into all that positive energy in all those young kids who've scrimped and saved and hoped and dreamed... and now they're here, ready to go. Ready for la premiere neige. I'd make it one of the biggest events on the Whistler calendar. And I'd pump up the story every chance I could. In other words, I'd let people know just how much Whistlerites care about the start of a new snowsliding season here.

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