Magic Park puts a new spin on mountain biking 

Beginner park to open with two runs on Saturday

Just 300 vertical feet from top to bottom and boasting two beginner runs, the new Magic Bike Park isn’t going to be featured on the cover of any mountain bike magazines any time soon. But that was never the point.

The Magic Bike Park was created for never-evers, beginners and young children as a low-impact, no-fear introduction to lift-assisted mountain biking.

Whistler-Blackcomb also hopes it will be a starting point for many riders.

"We really hope it will appeal to beginner riders and riders who might be too intimidated by the stuff they see in the big park, who look at that and say ‘no, not me’," said Rob McSkimming, the vice president of business development for Whistler Blackcomb and park manager.

"There’s a lot more up there than big jumps and big drops, but people don’t really get to see that.

"This park is a way to introduce people to lift-assisted riding. It’s something that all people can enjoy. After taking a few runs, some people might be ready to move over to Whistler and try a few more advanced runs."

The two runs in the park are Easy Rider and Cruise Control. Easy Rider is built into the trees between Yellow Brick Road and Lower Cruiser, with an easy grade and a series of eight wide bridges criss-crossing the creek.

Cruise Control is built into the run, with wide corners and an easy grade.

There are no jumps, no drops, no exposed root or rock sections, and very little risk of crashing.

The park will also be priced for beginners with day tickets for $10, and family of four passes for $28.04. Cheaper bike rentals will also be available, including a wide selection of junior sizes.

"This is really good for younger kids aged 7, 8, 9. At that age the (Whistler) park is too big, the runs are too long and they get tired," McSkimming explained.

"The bikes for kids that age aren’t the best, and the brakes require more strength than they’ve got. But with 300 feet of vertical, most kids will be able to ride all day."

If a rider wants to move on from the Magic Park to Whistler, they will be able to get a discounted pass.

The Magic Park will likely remain at just two runs, although one or two more runs may be considered in the future. There is limited space at Blackcomb base with the Adventure Zone and activities like horseback riding and hiking on the mountain.

"We’re definitely going to check it out and see what the demand is," said McSkimming.

"We do see the bike park as complementing the Adventure Zone, another activity for kids and families to enjoy, but we’re somewhat limited for space in there. We may be able to stick another singletrack or two somewhere in the near future, but the goal was to get these activities up before we think about the next step."

The Whistler Mountain Bike Park has had a delay with the Kona Jump Farm at Olympic Station, but they still hope to have a line of jumps in for June 25. The moving sidewalk lift, which will service the farm, is in need of repair, and likely won’t open until the following weekend as more jumps are added.

Freight Train, a much-anticipated A-Line style run in the Garbanzo Zone, will also open new sections on June 25. The top 25 per cent and bottom 25 per cent should be ready by then, and the middle section will be finished towards the end of July.

"There’s still quite a lot of trail to build," said McSkimming.

In the meantime he’s suggesting that riders try out Fatcrobat, Too Tight, and Angry Pirate, three new connecting runs on Garbanzo that opened near the end of last season.

"That’s one of the greatest big singletrack trails anywhere, it will be pretty hard to match that," he said.

Despite the cold and wet weather, park numbers are still up an average of 25 to 30 per cent compared to last year. Those numbers, as well as the fact that the gondola is closed for servicing, are part of the reason crews worked to get the Garbanzo Zone opened two weeks early.

"We have a feeling that (the bike park) will explode when we get the right combination of weather on a weekend," said McSkimming. "It’s pretty cold and wet up there, which is why we’re suggesting it’s for advanced and expert riders only, but we felt it would be a good idea to have it open before the lines get too big."

Announcements about the jump park and Garbanzo Zone will be made in the next week.

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