Whistler on sale

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From the Buyer’s Guide 2010 issue

Earlier this season Whistler-Blackcomb unveiled its lowest price ever for early-bird season passes at $1,099, which is $500 less than usual. It’s less simply because 2010 will be a very unusual year.

With the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games looming on the horizon, Whistler-Blackcomb is dangling carrots to entice skiers and snowboarders to the slopes. Many are choosing to stay away this season, fearing limited access due to the Games. But the reality is actually much different.

During the Olympic and Paralympic period, which begins January 25 for course setup, more than 90 per cent of the terrain will remain open with only the runs in the area of the Creekside venue and the training runs on both mountains closed. During the Paralympics in March, again more than 90 per cent of the terrain will be open with only the racecourse and training runs closed on Whistler Mountain.

Prior Winter Olympic hosts have experienced an “aversion factor” in the year of the Games and visitors stayed away. People assume the mountains will be closed or too crowded or still under construction when, in fact, none is the case in Whistler. With fewer guests expected on the mountains, skiers and riders will have a minimum of 3,000 hectares to explore all season long, with more terrain groomed each night than at any other resort in North America.

“We will encounter some access challenges this coming season, unlike any prior year, and we have listened to the concerns and feedback pass holders have provided. But it’s important to remember that there will be very little Games impact for the majority of the season. We believe this season’s pass prices provide exceptional value, andwill inspire people to join us for what will certainly be an epic season,” said Dave Brownlie, president and chief operating officer.

Along with cheaper pass prices, Whistler-Blackcomb is focusing on information. To help pass holders and all guests plan their winter at Whistler-Blackcomb, a section of the website has been devoted to information about what people can expect prior to, during and post the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. The website has the most current information available, catering to a skier’s or snowboarder’s perspective.


Whistler Mountain Run Closures (January 25-March 27)

  • Dave Murray Downhill (racecourse)
  • Wild Card (racecourse)
  • Jimmy’s Joker (racecourse)
  • Upper Franz’s (above the skiers tunnel—racecourse)

Whistler Mountain Run Closures (January 30-March 27)

  • Bear Paw
  • Tokum
  • Crossroads

Other Whistler Mountain Run Closures

  • Bear Cub (February 1-28)
  • Raven/Ptarmigan (training run, February 1-March 21)
  • Crabapple (February 1-17)

Blackcomb Mountain Run Closures (January 29-February 28)

  • Springboard (training run)
  • Lower Cruiser (training run)


In the years leading up to the 2010 Winter Games, Canada’s men’s alpine ski team has generated a buzz in the world of downhill skiing not seen since the Crazy Canucks put Canadian athletes on the map in the late 1970s.

They are called the Canadian Cowboys—and these guys mean business. According to Canadian lore, the nickname was coined in Beaver Creek, Colorado, on December 3, 2006, just moments after a cowboy-hat-wearing Michael Janyk stepped onto the victory podium to claim silver in the World Cup slalom race he’d just completed. The name stuck.

“The name came after my medal in Beaver Creek. I was in the finish area with a cowboy hat on and I was doing an interview with Patrick Lang, and he asked me what this new group was going to call itself. After some talk he came up with the ‘Canadian Cowboys.’ An interesting side note is that his dad, Serge Lang, was the one who came up with the Crazy Canucks name,” Janyk said.

The Canadian Cowboys brand, which is not officially connected to the Canadian Alpine Ski Team, is an umbrella nickname for six of the racers on the team. The current roster of “official” Canadian Cowboys includes Erik Guay, John Kucera, Jan Hudec, Manuel Osborne-Paradis, François Bourque and Michael Janyk.

Max Gartner, Alpine Canada’s chief athletics officer and director, believes the current Canadian skiing stars have earned their bragging rights.

The cowboy identity is meant to intimidate opponents and it’s even prompted a new team logo—a skull and ski crossbones. After all, having a nickname gives Canadian skiers an identity and builds team rapport. If it worked for the Crazy Canucks, then it just might bring gold to the Canadian Cowboys.

Competitive or un-Canadian?

The Canadian Olympic Committee has been unapologetic for limiting foreign athletes’ access to venues leading up to the Games. The reason? To give Canada’s team a home-turf advantage.

“We’re doing the best we can to give them [Team Canada] the advantages of being at home, as every other country in the world would do,” said John Furlong, chief executive offi cer of Vancouver’s Olympic organizing committee, in a press conference. “It’s standard for the home country to have home-field advantage and we will have that in Vancouver.”

The same situation applied in Salt Lake City in 2002, where the American team was given access to the venues and helped elevate the U.S. to first place at the Games.

The home-turf advantage will come into play for every sport at the 2010 Winter Games, from alpine skiing to speed skating. Canadian bobsleigh athletes will rack up at least 200 runs at the Whistler Sliding Centre, compared to 40 for other competitors.

Canadians are unashamedly exploiting the opportunity to compete on home turf at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games and they are not saying “Sorry.” It’s highly un-Canadian, true, but so is the goal set forth by the Canadian Olympic Committee—to finish at the top of the medals count.

After all, Canadians were far more generous with access prior to the 1988 Calgary Winter Games and failed to win a gold medal. So is it preferential treatment this time around? Absolutely. Should we feel guilty? Absolutely not!

Kim Thompson
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