Alta States 

A sacred ritual to respect

By Michel Beaudry

Opening Day. To most Snow-eaters, that’s like Christmas, Easter, New Year’s, Thanksgiving, July 1st and Halloween all rolled into one. And nowhere is that more evident than in Whistler. No matter the conditions, no matter the weather, the moment the lifts start running is the moment people come out to play. Fortunately, Ullr was particularly generous last Saturday…

Which brought Whistler Mountain revellers out in the kind of numbers we haven’t seen here in a long time. Whether Aussie newcomer or Vancouver veteran, tweener, teenager or silverback, the local Snow-eaters tribe was extremely well represented on the slopes this year. “This has got to be one of the best Opening Days in history,” said a jubilant Scott Fennell as he kicked out of his bindings at the bottom of Creekside. A 30-year Whistler resident, Fennell was highly impressed with the day’s offerings. “What a great time. I can’t believe I was riding top to bottom powder all day. This felt just like a continuation of last year’s conditions…”

His celebratory words were echoed by Philippe Lavoie. “It felt like mid-winter out there today,” said the ever-smiling Franco-Columbian (also known as Guy). “I had to make a lot of stops this morning to pick up all my son’s friends before I could get to the mountain. But I still made it in time to be among that first group up the Creekside gondola…” A rider who loves nothing more than pointing the nose of his board straight downhill, Lavoie admitted he was expecting to pay dearly for the early opening. “I thought we’d be paying a much higher price physically for today. But it’s been so easy. I’m hardly sore at all… and my board is barely scratched.”

Maybe it’s a payback for the tough times Whistler has experienced in recent years. Maybe it’s a karmic reflection of the regime change at Whistler-Blackcomb. Maybe it was just our turn. Whatever. From peak to valley, from Seppo’s to Franz’s, Whistler Mountain was covered in a thick, comfy blanket of white. And though things got a mite warm later in the day, the skiing remained good to the valley till the lifts closed.

“No question,” said Bernie Protsch, Whistler Mountain’s Pro Patrol boss, “this is an outstanding way to start the season. We just got dumped on the last few days. In fact, we have a deeper snowpack now at our Pig Alley weather station than many other resorts get all season long. And it doesn’t look like the storm patterns are going to change anytime soon…”

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