Whistler Blackcomb reflects after an epic season

Posted By: TSC Admin on May 25, 2010 1:55 pm

The 2009/2010 winter season at Whistler Blackcomb was one for the record books. History was made this year in more ways than one beginning with record breaking snowfall in November and was topped off when Whistler’s 50 year dream of hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games was realized.

“This has been a season like no other,” says Dave Brownlie, President and Chief Operating Officer at Whistler Blackcomb. “We could not have asked for a better year to host the Games and have the eyes of the world on us. The phenomenal early snowfall set the tone for the season and a number of blue bird days during the Games helped to showcase the beauty and majestic nature of this amazing place.” Brownlie continues, “With all of the media exposure generated by the Games, and resulting new awareness levels for Whistler, Whistler Blackcomb is excited to convert desire into action. We will be working hard to continue on the awareness momentum of the Games and attract guests from all over the world to Whistler next season and beyond.”

The Numbers
560cm/220 inches: Total snowfall in November making November 2009 the snowiest month on record.
1,492cm/587inches: Total snowfall as of May 24, 2010 making 2009/2010 the second snowiest season on record.
1,100+: Number of media registered at the Whistler Blackcomb Media Hub during the Olympics.
26: Number of medals Canadian Olympic athletes took home (14 gold, 7 silver and 5 bronze).
19: Number of medals Canadian Paralympic athletes took home (10 gold, 5 silver and 4 bronze).
33: Total gigawatt hours of hydro electricity the new Fitzsimons Hydro Project can produce annually.
8,171 acres: Total terrain available to skiers and riders at Whistler Blackcomb, North America’s Largest ski resort.
13: Number of years in row readers of SKIING magazine named Whistler Blackcomb the No.1 ski resort in North America.
436: Highest number of meters the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola is above the valley floor, one of three world records.
192: Total number of days Whistler Blackcomb was open this season for skiing and riding.

While the numbers may provide a snapshot of how epic the winter was, the 2009/2010 winter season at Whistler Blackcomb was more than just statistics.

Let it Snow
Winter started with a bang and once it began snowing it did not stop. An increase of more than 19 per cent; November (560 cm/220 inches) blew the previous record of 469cm (185 inches) set in January 2006 “out of the snow.” The heavy snowfall combined with Whistler Blackcomb’s early season snowmaking efforts, resulted in Whistler Mountain opening 12 days early on November 14, 2009.

On April 8, 2010, a late season blast of winter hit Whistler Blackcomb surpassing the previous second snowiest season record of 1,416 centimetres (47 feet). By season end the total snowfall accumulation was 1492cm or 49 feet bringing the new average snowfall at Whistler Blackcomb to 1,024cm or 33.6 feet.

An Olympic Dream Came True

Originally built with the dream of one day hosting the Winter Olympics, it took over

50 years and four Olympic bids for Whistler to finally realize its Olympic dream. Many Canadian athletes have used Whistler Blackcomb as their training grounds. Jennifer Heil, 

who won a silver medal in ladies’ moguls, and Alex Bilodeau, who brought home Canada’s first gold on home soil in men’s moguls, are both former Momentum campers. Bilodeau is coaching at Camp of this summer helping maintain the tradition of grooming Olympic athletes in Whistler. Both Momentum and Camp of Champions take place each summer on Blackcomb Glacier on Blackcomb Mountain.

 

(Image:entering Blackcomb Glacier…, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from tgillin’s photostream

The 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games have also provided legacies for Whistler Blackcomb’s guests and residents to enjoy. The Official Alpine Venue, which includes the Dave Murray Downhill and Franz’s on Whistler Mountain, will be available for guests to ski or ride each winter. Future Olympians will continue to train on these runs and potentially race as Whistler Blackcomb looks forward to hosting world class events in the future.

The halfpipe on Blackcomb Mountain, which has seen a surge in popularity since the Olympics, has inspired Whistler Blackcomb to consider expanding the terrain park for the 2010/2011 winter season. The 22 foot Global Cutter pipe John Melville and Steve Petrie built for the TELUS World Ski and Snowboard Festival this spring was a huge success and Whistler Blackcomb is contemplating the idea converting its current pipe to a 22 foot Olympic size superpipe for next season. The 13 foot mini pipe also stoked out skiers and riders this season, so look for this as part of next years arsenal as well.

Whistler Blackcomb’s snowmaking infrastructure has been greatly improved by a four year partnership and more than 17 million dollar investment by VANOC. The improvements, which included doubling the size of the water reservoir and installing new snowmaking pipe work, will allow Whistler Blackcomb to make more snow improving early season conditions while assisting to maintain ski outs in the late season.

Getting to Whistler Blackcomb has never been a smoother ride. The Sea to Sky Highway, which under went major renovations for the Games, is now a more efficient route between Vancouver and Whistler, to say nothing of its beauty.

Perhaps the greatest legacy of the Games is the global awareness Whistler achieved. Whistler Blackcomb worked hard with resort partners to capitalize on the media exposure of Whistler prior to, during and now post-Games to generate increased guest visits to the resort in 2011 and beyond.

Going Green
The most prestigious environmental award in the ski industry, the Golden Eagle award was awarded to Whistler Blackcomb in April for Overall Environmental Excellence by the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA). A significant project contributing to winning the award was the strategic partnership with Innergex Renewable Energy and Ledcor Power Group to complete the Fitzsimmons Creek Renewable Energy Project.

The Run-Of-River project is powered by the Fitzsimmons Creek and is located entirely within Whistler Blackcomb’s operating area. It can produce up to 33 gigawatt hours of hydro electricity per year; enough energy to match the ski area’s annual operating footprint. Whistler Blackcomb was also honoured as a top three finalist in three Silver Eagle categories: Excellence in Energy Conservation/Clean Energy, Excellence in Environmental Education and Excellence in Stakeholder Relations.

Whistler Blackcomb’s other environmental initiatives include an employee carpooling program, the Whistler Blackcomb Environmental Fund, and an aggressive composting and recycling program that has reduced the company’s overall garbage by 46.5 per cent from 2008. Whistler Blackcomb’s mission is to continue improving environmental initiatives in the hopes of one day achieving a zero operating footprint. Recognizing these ongoing initiatives, Whistler Blackcomb was named one of Canada’s Greenest Employers for a second year in a row.

The PEAK 2 PEAK
Uniting Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola continues to be an incredible asset to the resort. Allowing guests to access their favourite spots on both mountains, making the most of their day, the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola also provides non-skiers and riders a unique way to experience and enjoy the alpine.

On December 23, 2009, Discovery Channel Canada released an hour-long documentary about the construction of the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola. Entitled “Peak to Peak: Building the World’s Biggest Gondola” the film features stunning videography and gives viewers an in-depth look at the challenges of completing the engineering feat. In addition, Whistler Blackcomb produced its own video tribute to the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola entitled “On the Shoulders of Giants,” which was written, filmed and directed by an entirely local crew led by long-time Whistler filmmaker Jim Budge. The film details how visionaries and athletes have always been inspired by Whistler Blackcomb’s terrain.

Opening for the second season of summer operation on May 29, 2010 the PEAK 2 PEAK Alpine Experience offers guests a 360-degree window into Whistler Blackcomb’s alpine environment and (as snowpack allows) provides access to over 50 kilometres of hiking trails on both Whistler and Blackcomb mountains.

About Whistler Blackcomb
Consistently ranked as North America’s top ski and snowboard resort, Whistler Blackcomb welcomes the world in 2010 as a host venue for the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. With uninterrupted skiing, riding and sightseeing available throughout the winter, season two of the highly acclaimed PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola, and great package deals offered throughout the season, Whistler Blackcomb continues to raise the level of mountain excitement for its guests. Located a scenic two-hour drive north of Vancouver, Canada up the spectacular, newly-finished Sea to Sky Highway, this resort is home to Whistler and Blackcomb mountains, which boast one vertical mile of incredible skiing and riding. With over 16 alpine bowls, three glaciers, 200 trails, and 8,171 acres of skiable terrain, the choices of where and what to ski/ride at Whistler Blackcomb from beginner to advanced terrain are staggering. Joined at the base by a vibrant pedestrian village filled with award-winning après bars, restaurants, patios, cafes, shops, galleries and spas, and surrounded by breathtaking scenery, this four-season resort is spectacular.

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