Whistler, Blackcomb mark anniversaries 

On-mountain improvements, lessons learned from 2004-05 shaping winter season

This coming winter season marks important anniversaries for both Whistler and Blackcomb mountains. Whistler will be celebrating its 40 th anniversary and Blackcomb its 25 th , laying the ground work for what should be an exciting and busy winter.

The new season brings a new focus and this year Whistler-Blackcomb is trying to improve the experience for families and beginners. In a news release, officials said that initiatives to achieve this goal range from package offers to changes in terrain layout.

In one change, the Whistler Mountain Family Zone will increase in size and will move to Ego Bowl. The move will separate the Family Zone from the entrance to the Whistler Mountain Habitat Terrain Park, in an effort to create better flow for each of the user groups.

The Family Zone will include Ego Bowl, Enchanted Forest, Bean Sprout, Cougar Run and Lower Emerald Lift Line.

Also, ski outs on Blackcomb have been improved. Wider runs with more gradual slopes are intended to ease the end-of-day traffic down into Whistler Village.

Events such as Discover Whistler Days and special holiday packages, many of which will offer discounts or free lessons, are aiming to attract more visitors and improve on the experience.

"One thing that was reinforced through last year’s inaugural Beginner’s Week was the great value the Ski and Snowboard School delivers to our guests," said Stuart Rempel, Senior VP of Marketing and Sales at Whistler-Blackcomb. "Many of our guests signed up to take advantage of the guiding and coaching our pros offered. Beginner’s Week saw over 3,000 never-evers sign up for ski and snowboard lessons at significant discounts. (This has) resulted in the creation of Discover Whistler Days and the free first day lessons with package holidays."

The experience of last season’s frustrating weather has seen Whistler-Blackcomb attempting to improve the quality and quantity of snow on the mountains. Extensive summer grooming and an increase in overall snowmaking capacity has staff hoping that difficult weather will be a less significant factor in the future.

"Our crews learned a lot about the mountains and what it really takes to keep them going through the challenging weather we experienced last winter," said Bob Dufour, VP of Operations. "This year’s planned improvements are partially due to those (experiences) and will help us deliver more consistent terrain and snow conditions from opening day in mid-November to closing day next June."

The summer grooming across both mountains is designed to enable ski runs to open early in the season with less snow and improve snow coverage, as well as skier and rider flow throughout the winter.

Whistler Mountain has also seen the addition of automatic guns to its snowmaking fleet which will increase snowmaking efficiency on what will be the site of the alpine skiing events during the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The men’s and women’s downhill will be designed this year and improvements at Creekside will reportedly begin in the summer of 2006.

Whistler-Blackcomb is scheduled to officially open for the 2005-06 season on Nov. 24.

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