Thank the Zamboni driver
Credit, where credit is due. Nature has not been kind to Whistler skiers and boarders so far this season. A couple of Pineapple Expresses and high pressure systems have passed over the valley, but unfortunately passing over at separate times is not optimal for the natural snowfall process. We require a mid-air collision of these two conditions. When this happens the saturated wet warm air is forced by the Arctic cold air to rise rapidly, resulting in prodigious "dump" conditions, and when these factors happen right over the Whistler valley snowfalls are measured in feet rather than mere centimetres.
In spite of the lack of natural co-operation, snow for skiing, boarding, and cross-country skiing has been manufactured during this past holiday period thanks largely due to technology and the hard work of our local snow farmers. Both Blackcomb and Whistler mountains have over the past few years invested in and installed improved snowmaking equipment which, coupled with minimal below freezing temperatures and benign chemicals, can produce mounds of frozen pellets. Add a fleet of state-of-the-art snow cats operated by arguably the finest teams of snow groomers on the continent Walla, skiing and boarding on what otherwise would have been impassible terrain on many of the mountains main runs.
Now here in the valley, the municipality operated cross-country trails around Lost Lake Park, The Chateau and Nicklaus North Golf Courses are particularly vulnerable to warmer temperatures and the lack of natural snow cover. The muni has no snow guns to manufacture snow for the skinny ski trails, but this holiday season some bright light said: "Hey, I have an idea. Why dont we truck the Meadow Park ice rink Zamboni shavings and scrapings over to the Lost Lake Park trails that need snow the most? Maybe that will be enough frozen material to keep the trails open until we get some more natural snow." About 17 truck loads later, the trails were able to be kept open over the holidays thanks to the efforts of the muni snow farmers and groomers.
Special thanks must go out to all of the sharp skated, hard skating hockey players and skaters at the Meadow Park rink. You have allowed many of us who enjoy cross-country skiing, both classic and skate skiing, throughout this holiday season to enjoy our sport despite the minimal natural snow conditions. Sustainability at its finest.
A couple of six centimetre natural snow falls augmented and embellished the Christmasy look for this holiday season, but much of the cross country and downhill success has to be credited to all of the hard working men and women of Whistler-Blackcomb and the Resort Municipality of Whistlers snow farming and grooming teams. It also looks like most of the venues for the FIS Snowboarding World Championships will take place on snow largely generated by the snow farmers.