Digging out the Whistler Mountain Bike Park was a pleasure this year, compared to the past two near-record snowfall seasons where it took a massive effort by crews to get a handful of trails ready for the May long weekend.
"We've been blessed a little by Mother Nature with a little warm rain and sunshine, and after that with warm temperatures, so in terms of weather this is probably our most cooperative bike park opening in recent memory," said bike park manager Brian Finestone.
That said, crews have been working since April 23 to get the bike park ready for this Friday, May 18, using cats to clear the roads, excavators to move snow off trails and repair jumps and crews to use hand tools to rake out trails and ensure they're ready to be ridden. By Friday, a full dozen trails will be open — A-Line, B-Line, Crank It Up, Ninja Cougar, Karate Monkey, Samurai Pizza Cat, World Cup Singletrack, Detroit Rock City, Schleyer, Ho Chi Min, Hornet and Heart of Darkness. Easy Does It should follow soon, as well as other trails accessible by the Fitzsimmons Express chair.
As for new trails planned for this year the goal is to complete another section of Blue Velvet, although it's unknown if crews can link the blue Garbanzo Zone trail to Crank It Up by the end of the season. As well, crews are completing a trail from the top of the Whistler Village Gondola to the Peak Chair for the new Top of the World trail, which will start at the peak of Whistler and connect with the Garbanzo Zone.
Top of the World will open this season for an extra $15 on top of a bike park ticket or pass, and will be limited to 100 riders a day to preserve the alpine trail.
Lower down the mountain, the crew will be working to prepare courses for the Crankworx Whistler events, including the Canadian Open Downhill and Canadian Open Enduro. As well, crews will be building a short course in The Boneyard for a new "dual air and style" event that could be open to the public afterwards.
The concept is similar to dual moguls where athletes go head-to-head from the start gate, and are given scores for how fast they come down as well as for air and style over three jumps that will be built along the route.
An early bird season pass is $499 through May 31, going up $50 on June 1. Buying the early bird pass will also get one Peak Ride ticket to sample Top of the World and a bring-a-friend ticket that's valid until June 22.
Also back this year is the Triple Play Card for $139, which includes three full days of park riding. If you buy it before May 31 you'll get an additional day pass before June 22. You can also load an additional three days onto the pass for $99. Taken together, that's a total of seven days of park riding for $238.
Another option to consider is the Twilight Triple Play Pass, which includes three full days in the park and free riding after 5 p.m. from June 16 to Sept. 3. Buying before May 31 will get you an extra day, and three additional days are also available for $99.
Discounts available include 15 per cent off food at GLC, 20 per cent off food at the Roundhouse Lodge, 20 per cent off retail at Garbanzo Bike & Bean, and 20 per cent off rentals at Garbanzo Bike & Bean and the Whistler Mountain Bike Park Demo Centre.
Also this week, the schedule for Crankworx Whistler was released, with 13 events from Aug. 10 to 19. A few of the more high-flying events are invite only, but most of the competitions are open to the public including the Fat Tire Crit, Canadian Open Enduro, Ride Day (new event), Air Downhill, Ultimate Pump Track Challenge presented by Rock Shox, Dual Slalom and Jeep Canadian Open Downhill.
A few additional events will be announced in the near future.
Registration will get underway on June 1 at www.crankworx.com.
For more on the bike parkvisit www.whistlerbike.com.