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Cross-country season opens early

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Nicklaus North, municipal trails soft-groomed

Early season snowfalls that dropped more than 40 centimetres of snow in the valley bottom have given cross-country skiers the earliest start to a winter season in many years.

"This is the earliest we’ve been open," said Ian Goldstone of the Whistler Cross Country Connection. "We’re about five weeks ahead of schedule, and way ahead of where we were last year.

"People see snow on the ground and they want to ski. It’s exciting for us, and for all of the other skiers out there who are amazed to have a chance to get some skiing in before the craziness hits around Christmas. I think the phone rang about 30 times today."

Whistler’s cross-country trail network, which includes 5 km of novice trails around Nicklaus North Golf Course and 25 km of trails around Lost Lake Park, have been snowmobile groomed, creating a soft surface for skate skiers. A track for classic skiers should also be open this week.

There’s not enough snow on the ground just yet to use the grooming machine, but there is more snow in the forecast continuing into next week.

Use of the trails was free at press time, with no tickets or passes required. Once grooming starts, the ticket booths will open for the season.

The Cross-Country Connection has started to offer rentals and various lesson and tour packages for the season.

New this year, a women’s only clinic led by Carolyn Rodger and Joanna Harrington will be up and running by mid-December, with dates to be announced on Tuesday nights and Saturdays.

For more information on the Whistler Cross-Country Connection, visit www.crosscountryconnection.bc.ca.

At Nicklaus North, the Nordic Ski Centre celebrated its first rental of the season on Tuesday.

"We’re very happen to be open. The snow is just awesome and we have five kilometres of track open now on the golf course, and more is ready in Lost Lake all the time," said Savio Otis, the owner and operator of the centre.

"These are the best conditions we have seen at this time of year in six or seven years, and before the American Thanksgiving is just amazing for us. I’ve been out many times, and the snow is just great. We really couldn’t ask for a better start to the season."

The Whistler Nordic Centre offers rentals, lessons, snowshoeing, and other programs, including nightly sleigh rides, dinners and snowshoe tours through the Nicklaus North clubhouse. For more information, visit www.whistlerski-hike.com.

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