Whistler Mountain Bike Park opening May 17 

SRAM Dual Slalom on tap to help kick off 2019 campaign

click to enlarge FILE PHOTO BY JUSTA JESKOVA COURTESY OF WHISTLER BLACKCOMB - The Whistler Mountain Bike Park is set to open on May 17.
  • File photo by Justa Jeskova courtesy of Whistler Blackcomb
  • The Whistler Mountain Bike Park is set to open on May 17.

It's the time Whistler's summer proponents have been waiting for through a long, cold winter.

The Fitzsimmons Zone of the Whistler Mountain Bike Park is set to open on Friday, May 17 with access via the Whistler Village Gondola from 11 a.m. or between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. on the Fitzsimmons Express Chair. Nearly the entire zone will be ready for Opening Day, save for Dirt Merchant and Golden Triangle, which will be under construction for roughly two more weeks and will be open in late May or early June.

"Pretty much everything else will be open," WB business development manager Wendy Robinson said. "We did pretty much a complete rebuild of the lower section of Dirt Merchant. We opened up a section of the pro line right around Crankworx ... so riders had the opportunity to check out the pro line.

"It elevates the level of riding on the pro line."

Crews also cleaned up the intersections of Dirt Merchant, Golden Triangle and EZ Does It to help improve the traffic flow in that section.

The next rollout of trails, including the Garbanzo Zone and Creekside, including Upper Creekside's brand-new trails, will debut on June 15 after the higher snow melts and skiing wraps in the area.

As well, Peak Chair's debut is set for June 22, though Top of the World "won't open until conditions are ready on that trail," Robinson said.

Even with several section of Whistler Mountain staying open for skiing later, director of communications Marc Riddell doesn't anticipate issues with riders sharing upward transport alongside other visitors.

"They're going to be riding up on the gondola with bikers, skiers and sightseers. That's a little bit different than what we've done in the past," he said.

Added Robinson: "Normally, on opening weekend, we don't have access to the village gondola because we have ski operations on Blackcomb ... We have the added village gondola cabins for biking, so we'll be able to alleviate issues and increase capacity with the gondola in place."

To help kick off the season, the SRAM Dual Slalom will come to the resort for the first time on Saturday, May 18.

Categories include: male grom (13 and under); junior female (16 and under); junior male (14 to 16); female open (17 and over); male open (17 and over); master female (30 and up); master male (30 to 39); and veteran male (40 and up). Ages are calculated as of Dec. 31, 2019. Racing, with two-run combined time, kicks off with the juniors at high noon.

Robinson said Joyride Bike Parks Inc. is putting the course together, and though it's in the vicinity of the famous Crankworx dual slalom run, riders should expect something entirely different.

"It's coming together really nicely at the bottom of the mountain," she said. "It'll be a different flavour than what you normally see up there."

SRAM is set to bring a number of riders from its pro stables to race, though specific riders weren't yet confirmed.

"You'll be able to compare your times to theirs, which I think will be really, really cool," Robinson said.

Those interested in signing up or getting more information can visit www.whistlerblackcomb.com.

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