The World Ski and Snowboard Festival is almost upon us and that can mean only one thing - the end of the winter season is in sight.
Alright, fair enough, it means more than one thing. It means great bands pumping music through the village streets. It means rock stars performing superstar tricks on the mountain. It means filmmaker showdowns, big air comps, pro-photographer searches.
And what it really means is that Whistler is set to go off for about 10 days.
BUT hang on a second, what the hell happened to the winter?
To be totally honest, I feel entirely cheated by the 2002/'03 season.
First of all, we got totally ripped off by the first month of winter when we waited and waited and waited for the snow to come.
All anyone talked about was how this was the worst start to the winter season in decades. It was depressing.
Moods turned sour as Mother Nature continued to be wholly unco-operative. Business owners started to panic with thoughts of empty stores over the Christmas holidays. Whistler-Blackcomb bought 10 new snow guns to fill in patches on the mountain, determined to get snow to the valley floor for the tourists they hoped were still coming to visit.
And then there were the hordes of young workers who descended upon Whistler with the promise of great skiing and riding, as well as the lure of jobs. They were slowly disappointed as the Whistler economy got off to a sluggish seasonal start, not to mention the fact that the beginners were nursing some sore bodies. Learning to snowboard on those early season conditions couldn't have been too much fun.
Every time I saw the first wipe outs of the season, I was thankful that I had puffy powder to brace my many falls in November 2001. Don't get me wrong, it still hurt like hell and I spent a good portion of December in a permanent daze and a strict regime of Ibuprofen, but I'm sure it was a lot easier than learning on ice or man-made snow of early December 2002.
So with aching muscles and bruised bones some of these newcomers from the Southern Hemisphere stared out at the office windows, wondering if they would see their first white Christmas. It seemed like a long shot.
Those were some bleak times leading up to Christmas 2002. Remember?
And then it happened. A day that's going down in my history books, Christmas Day 2002, as the day I finally figured out what powder was all about.