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By Amy Fendley Unparalleled in North America in many ways, but too much rain and too hard to get to. These are the reasons why Ski — The Magazine of The Ski Life — ranked Whistler/Blackcomb fifth this year in its 11th annual Reader Resort Survey. Whistler/Blackcomb was rated the number one ski resort in North America by Ski for two years in row, in 1995 and 1996, when it was a "brash new player from the wilds of British Columbia... the potential for adventure is overwhelming... Whistler is a gourmet’s dream come true." "Whistler is in many ways unparalleled in North America," exclaims Andy Bigford, Ski Magazine’s editor-in-chief. "But what’s happened is a lot of our readers went there and were less satisfied with two things, accessibility and weather." This year’s Ski survey rated 60 ski resorts based on such criteria as snow quality, challenge, value, weather, lodging, apres-ski and vertical rise. Vail came out number one, for the second year in a row, followed by Deer Valley, Utah, Aspen and Snowmass. The results are in the October issue of Ski. Whistler has ranked number one in Snow Country magazine, now called Mountain Sports and Living, for the past seven years. Of the 16 categories that comprise Ski’s Reader Resort Survey, readers said that snow quality is the most important factor to a successful ski outing, followed by terrain. Meanwhile, in a separate survey by the magazine, Whistler Blackcomb was chosen by 22 per cent of readers as the destination if they could take a ski vacation anywhere. Bigford says this is "proof that Whistler’s overwhelming allure of something different and special is still felt by many readers." The survey is completed by 6,000 readers selected geographically to represent a reader circulation of 425,000. Only 60 resorts get ranked, from one to five, based on what Ski claims is the only statistically accurate survey in North America. And according to Bigford, it takes only two small factors to drag down a resort’s overall ranking. "It’s hard to stay on top overall when you have a low rating. When I talked with Hugh Smythe, he said he didn’t expect to stay number one forever... it was no surprise," said Bigford. "Whistler’s unique experience is still the best for many of our readers, but some just prefer the groomed corduroy and blue skies of the resorts in Colorado," he said. In a separate story in the October issue of Ski, dubbed The New Classics, Whistler garnered a seven-page profile.

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