Traveler staffer Kimberly Calder offers a preview of the 2010 Olympics outside Vancouver, B.C., on the slopes of Whistler.
Whistler Blackcomb is epic. The terrain is endless, the powder is plentiful, and even the locals see the possibilities for adventure as infinite. In 2010, Whistler Blackcomb will be hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Alpine events; however, while it’s still dumping snow in Canada (and probably will be until late spring), now is a great time to get a taste of this playground as it revs up to host the games.
One particular improvement done for the Olympics makes choosing your perfect ski adventure even easier. The Peak 2 Peak lift now links the two mountains in an 11-minute gondola ride. (The previous option included a 40-minute run to the base and, depending on lift lines, another 15-minute ride to the top.) Now mixing a little Jersey Cream (at Blackcomb) into your morning runs at Whistler is sweeter than ever.
No matter where you end up, you can easily spend all day on either mountain. While both have an assortment of skiing levels, Whistler has more terrain and can feel crowded because of its popularity. Blackcomb, on the other hand, has more advanced runs but tends to get icy first. One constant is the beautiful valley views from all directions.
Whistler Village has an après spot for every type of skier or boarder and is also the best that B.C. has to offer. The quiet cobblestone streets are filled with ski shops, pubs, restaurants, and galleries. Pasta Lupino, one of Whistler’s best-kept secrets, is neither high-end nor expensive, but has the best Italian food around. Citta’ and The Brewhouse
are great places for both food and nightlife. Or, if you feel like having a quiet night, walking “The Stroll” and browsing the boutiques can be just as entertaining.
But one of the most impressive things about this little ski town is the big heart it has for Mother Nature (in fact, Whistler Village was built on remediated land that used to be the town’s garbage dump). Whistler has made great strides by using an all biodiesel bus fleet; recycling everything from paper and plastics to light bulbs and ski equipment; using ceramics to reduce waste in their eating establishments; and working to minimize their carbon footprint by limiting erosion and planting native species to enhance the natural wildlife. And the town has established an ambitious plan to accelerate its sustainability by 2020 and promote a no-waste policy to both guests and residences.
With the whole community working so diligently toward sustainability, Whistler is sure to make a great impression when it makes its Olympic debut. If you’re not planning on making your own debut during the games, make sure you get yourself to Whistler to try out some of the sweet skiing that lasts through May, or try glacier skiing and mountain biking in the summer. Whatever you do, just make sure you get there.