XC trail operators thrilled after recent snowfall 

Whistler Olympic Park, Lost Lake thriving in time for winter holidays

click to enlarge FILE PHOTO BY ETIENNE LETONDEUR - White christmas A recent snowfall has left Whistler Olympic Park in good shape for Christmas guests.
  • File photo by Etienne Letondeur
  • White christmas A recent snowfall has left Whistler Olympic Park in good shape for Christmas guests.

The first several weeks of skiing at Whistler Olympic Park were, well, a little bit limited.

With minimal snowfall in the Callaghan Valley, much of the activity was done on a one-kilometre loop made of snow saved from last winter. Races planned for late November and early December were either cancelled or moved to snowier locales.

However, speaking on the first day of winter on Dec. 21, Whistler Olympic Park managing director Tim Hope was enthusiastic about the state of the trails.

"In the past week and a half, we've had over two, two-and-a-half metres of snow here at our base elevation," he said. "As of today, with the ski trail network, we have 60 kilometres and we're working on continuing to open more as things progress.

"A week and a half ago, we were at one kilometre, so it's been an amazing weather system that's come in and allowed us to open things up."

Hope noted that about 15 kms of snowshoe trails are being set and marked. He added that the snowshoe-trail drainage systems were improved over the summer, and though the average participant won't notice, the more quickly the rain disappears, the easier it is for the crew to curate the snow once it lands.Like in any line of work, it can be difficult to go from the proverbial zero to 60, but Hope said the experienced team has developed strategies and tactics over the years to best handle an influx of the white stuff.

"The team has worked really hard at packing all that snow as it's falling and prepping the ski base," he said. "Right now, we have a great base of snow that we just need to work on machine packing and getting out there now that we've got a little break in the snowfall window.

"We always work on maintaining our core network during the snow events and moving out from there as the snowfall subsides."

As well, the dog trail and toboganning hill are both open, and a shuttle from Whistler Village and Creekside is available for those without a car.

For more information, visit www.whistlersportlegacies.com.

Further north, Dec. 21 marked the opening of the Lost Lake Trails close to Whistler Village.

At opening, eight kms of trails for classic and skate skiing around Lost Lake, Lower Panorama and Old Mill Road were ready to go while roughly six kms of snowshoe trails are active. At full capacity, the network boasts 25 kms for skiing and 15 kms for snowshoeing.

"Staff worked extremely hard to get the trails open and we are confident that they are ready for action, so get your skis and get out there," Mayor Jack Crompton said.

Crompton added that night skiing is also available.

For more information, visit www.whistler.ca.

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