Best of Whistler 2013 - Sports & Recreation 

click to flip through (8) PHOTO BY SCOTT ROBARTS - Favourite Summer Athlete: Casey Brown
  • Photo by Scott Robarts
  • Favourite Summer Athlete: Casey Brown

Favourite Summer Athlete:

Casey Brown

Obviously, the top vote getter in this category was bound to be a cyclist of some kind. What we didn't expect was for Pique readers to pick a rider who doesn't really call Whistler home.

Now, that's not to say that Casey Brown, the downhill shredder from Revelstoke, isn't a deserving winner, or that she doesn't spend her fair share of time in the resort. The Queen of Crankworx from 2012, a top-10 finisher in the world championships for the past two years and a regular on the Whistler Mountain Bike Park trails during the summer, the 23-year-old was your favourite summer athlete this year.

Brown is currently in her birth country of New Zealand, where she spends much of the winter riding and filming, but she was thrilled to hear she'd won when we reached her by email.

"It made my day to hear that news," she said. "I've been spending a good part of my summers in Whistler since I was 14. I live in Revelstoke but Whistler was where I really learned to ride my bike. Now I use it for training for World Cups and spending time with quality friends.

"I was so stoked to hear I was chosen for the award, it's such an honour," added Brown, who listed Aunt Astrid, Uncle Chris and the Aava Hotel as some of her biggest boosters in Whistler. "I couldn't do what I do without them."

Brandon Semenuk was the runner-up for this year's award, and he had a pretty darn good year, too. Though the freestyle rider reduced his competition schedule this year, he was still a force in slopestyle events during 2013. He captured another Red Bull Joyride title in front of home fans during Crankworx Whistler, won the slopestyle title at Crankworx Les 2 Alpes and also hit the podium during the sport's X Games debut in Germany. His "Life Behind Bars" web series is also must-watch stuff for biking fans.

Will Routley similarly celebrated a victory of his own in Whistler this year, finishing first in the GranFondo, and the pro cyclist placed third in this year's voting.

Favourite Winter Athlete:

Eric Hjorleifson

Eric Hjorleifson is an innovator, a ski film star and also your favourite athlete on snow this year.

There aren't many skiers who are able to push the boundaries of the sport on multiple fronts the way Hjorleifson does. Whether it's through riding jaw-dropping lines in films for Matchstick Productions or Sherpas Cinema, or by developing new ski and boot technology with companies like 4FRNT and Dynafit, the 30-year-old Canmore native is always finding ways to move the sport forward.

We couldn't reach "Hoji" to hear his reaction to winning this year's honour. We're sure he was somewhere off the grid chasing untracked powder. But we think you, the readers, selected him because his is a Whistler story like so many in this town — moving west in search of snow, settling here permanently soon after, and spending his time doing what he loves by playing in the backcountry of the Coast Mountains. The only difference is he makes a living doing it, and you don't.

Even though it's been nearly three years since she last competed in ski cross, Pique readers clearly still love retired Olympic champion Ashleigh McIvor, because she finished a close second to Hjorleifson in this year's voting. Meanwhile, your top Whistlerite of the year is also one of your favourite athletes, as Mike Douglas received the third-highest vote total in this category.

Favourite Junior Athlete:

Jackson Goldstone

If you're not familiar with Jackson Goldstone, you should probably look him up on Google or YouTube. Like, right now. And then, be prepared to weep as you watch this nine-year-old biking wunderkind rip around trails in the Whistler Mountain Bike Park with more style and skill than you could ever dream of achieving yourself. This Squamish kid will be one to keep an eye on for a long time to come.

Goldstone's regular riding partner and Whistler local Finn Finestone finished third in the voting for favourite junior, but we're not sure if those picking him were thinking of his ability in cycling or snowboarding. He's pretty good at both. The runner-up was downhill rider Zander Geddes, 18. He finished just four-tenths of a second off the podium during this year's national championships at Panorama, impressed with a near top-10 finish at this year's World Cup stop in Quebec and topped the junior podium in Crankworx competition.

Best Sports Event of 2013:


Crankworx is one of the most anticipated events of the summer each year, but this year's 10th anniversary edition of the mountain biking festival was your clear-cut favourite event of the year. It wasn't really close — Crankworx took in more than double the amount of votes compared to any other event.

It was a pretty memorable one, too. Local riders provided some of the best moments — Brandon Semenuk capturing another Red Bull Joyride title, Jesse Melamed hanging with the world's best on the trails he grew up on during the Canadian Open Enduro, Claire Buchar returning to the podium just months after being hospitalized following a horrific car crash. And then there was Steve Smith reminding everyone he's unbeatable in Whistler by winning two more downhill races, and longtime women's greats like Jill Kintner and Anne Caro Chausson riding to victory once again.

Here's to the next 10 years, Crankworx.

Ironman Canada, making its first appearance in Whistler this summer, was your second-favourite event of the year. The 31st running of the long-distance triathlon brought incredible energy to the resort and seemed to inspire all who participated, be it volunteers, athletes or spectators. The World Ski and Snowboard Festival placed third in this year's voting.

Best cross-country ski trail:

Lost Lake Trails

The Lost Lake Trails took top spot by a mile. With dozens of kilometres of well-groomed trails for classic and skate skiing, tracks lit up for nighttime skiing and a central spot close the village, the Lost Lake network truly has some of the area's best skinny skiing. Other favourites you picked out were the Riverside Trails and the skiing in the Callaghan Valley, where you can ski the 2010 Olympic venue and experience a huge collection of trails just a short drive south of the resort.

Best bike trails:

Lost Lake Trails

You love 'em in the winter, and you love 'em in the summer, too. The Lost Lake Trails were also your favourites for biking, but this one wasn't nearly as close as the category above.

Just a single vote separated the cross-country trails around the lake and Dirt Merchant in the Whistler Mountain Bike Park. Those Zappa trails et al are pretty special in the hearts of XC riders. But since the Lost Lake network is made up of a whole bunch of different favourites covering a big area, doesn't that mean that Dirt Merchant should qualify as the overall winner on its own? We might have to split this category into cross-country and downhill next year so that all of our great trails are properly recognized.

Meanwhile, You voted another bike park classic, A-Line, into third place.

Best Run on Whistler Blackcomb:

Peak to Creek

Skiing the entire length of the Peak to Creek on Whistler lets you experience the mountain from top to bottom as its name suggests, and it's long been one of the resort's most popular routes. This year is no different, as it's your favourite once again.

A lot of you like to go the other way off the Peak Chair as well, as the Glacier Bowl finished a close second after tallying up the votes. A challenging, steep spot with plenty of opportunity for fresh tracks, it's a great spot to really experience Whistler's in-bounds alpine terrain.

Since everyone has their favourite mountain, it probably shouldn't be a shock that Blackcomb has one top-three finisher, as readers picked out 7th Heaven just behind the other two favourites.

In true locals' fashion, a lot of you said you're not telling us your favourite place to ski or ride. Keep your powder stashes secret if you must.

Best Fitness Facility:

Meadow Park Sports Centre

Meadow Park Sports Centre doesn't just have a great area to work out; it's got a whole host of great activities to help keep you fit. Swimming, skating, squash, training sessions, spin classes — there really is something for everybody at the municipally run recreation centre. Readers picked Meadow Park as their overwhelming favourite in this category.

The Core was your second-favourite fitness facility. Its village location has lots to offer as well, whether it's weights, wall climbing, kids' camps and personal training. Placing third was Innovative Fitness, which has gained a good following since it opened in Whistler three years ago at the Nita Lake Lodge.

A bunch of you reminded us that the bike park and the mountains themselves give you pretty good exercise, too. Point noted.

Best Toonie Race Sponsor:

Fanatyk Co.

Let's start by applauding all of the sponsors who step up to feed and give swag to all of the WORCA members who come out each Thursday by the hundreds, rain or shine. Then, let's all give another round of cheers for Fanatyk Co. and Southside Diner, which got top honours for hosting the Aug. 8 Toonie.

This year's season finale, a true Halloween Toonie taking place on Oct. 31 was your second-favourite, put on by WORCA, the Whistler Brewery and Gibbons Hospitality Group. You apparently all love a good spa session after a gruelling ride, because the Sept. 12 apres at Scandinave Spa, with help from Slopeside Supply, Mount Currie Coffee Co. and Lucia Gelato was a big hit as well.

Best Golf Course:

Nicklaus North Golf Course

Any of Whistler's links are worthy of this title, but this year your No. 1 place to play was Nicklaus North Gold Course.

Designed by the world's greatest player, it's a gorgeous and demanding test of golf that provides a tremendous all-around experience each time you tee up. It might have B.C.'s best collection of par-3s, including the stunning 17th hole on the shore of Green Lake.

General manager Mike Zuccolin said the crew at Nicklaus North works had to keep its members and guests happy, making the award special for his team.

"It's great that the locals right in our backyard here think of us as the best. It's definitely an honour," said Zuccolin. "We have a lot of long-term managers in place here and a loyal team, and the quality of the golf course and the condition has been just unbelievable the last three to four years in particular. I think that's probably helped us take the title and be No. 1 this year."

The Whistler Golf Club finished second and the Fairmont Chateau Whistler ranked third, but each course pulled in a healthy number of votes. It's hard to pick a favourite, we know.

A lot of you said to just get a bike instead, but these sports aren't mutually exclusive, people. In the same way the Sea to Sky corridor offers some of the country's best singletrack, it might also be Canada's finest golf destination with so many impeccable courses all in the same place.

Best Thing to do While Injured:


By the variety of activities suggested in this category, it seems like you all have some experience finding ways to pass the time while hurt. But it's an old favourite that topped the list, because drinking and people watching from a Whistler patio can never get old. Your friends might forget about you and your gimpy leg when they head up the hill for a day, but there's always après. So drink up, injured Whistlerites. We're pretty sure the 'Don't mix with alcohol' instructions on your pain medication are there in error.

Resting and doing nothing, watching TV and movies or going to the spa were popular choices. Other pastimes included cooking, crafting, volunteering, smoking pot and having sex. But do you really have to be hurt to do any of these things?

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