SKI ranking By Paul Dillon "The numbers from this year's poll only confirm what we at SKI have known for some time now, that Whistler is the best resort in North America," Seth Masia, senior editor of SKI magazine, told a Vancouver press conference Monday. "It is amazing that you've been able to telescope 60 years of development into 30 years. I would be surprised if it doesn't repeat next year and in a couple of years retire with the trophy," Masia added. The SKI ranking is considered significant for a couple of reasons. Unlike Snow Country magazine, which has ranked Whistler number one for the past four years, SKI, a Times-Mirror Magazines Inc. publication, is considered by many to be more of a "skiers' magazine." SKI's ranking is also based solely on readers' responses, whereas Snow Country takes into account statistical measurements such as vertical feet, acres of skiing and number of slope-side beds. Sun Valley, Idaho, Mammoth Mountain, Calif. and Snowbird, Utah placed second, third and fourth respectively in SKI's poll. Vail, which has held SKI readers enthralled for the past seven years, slipped to sixth position. Masia blamed overcrowding, the glitch-ridden Denver airport and close to 50 road closures on Colorado highways last year for Vail's fall from grace. Mont Tremblant in Quebec, owned by Blackcomb's parent company Intrawest, ranked tops in Eastern ski areas. Despite astonishing snowfalls last winter, snow conditions at Whistler remain the resort's Achilles heel; Whistler ranked 14th in that category. The 2,000 SKI subscribers who responded to the magazine's poll ranked Whistler-Blackcomb first in terrain, lift lines and lodging, third in both overall value and challenge and fourth in food quality. Whistler-Blackcomb also ranked first among men, women and singles. The resort's reputation as a party town was solidified with a second place ranking behind Aspen. "If our readers had the time or the money to visit anywhere, to take that dream vacation, 17 per cent say they would choose Whistler-Blackcomb," Masia said. "I have always had a great time while I'm here... (but) I would think twice about setting my daughter loose on the place." Publicists from both Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains were on hand to trumpet on-slope improvements for the 1995-96 season. Blackcomb is adding three new beginner lifts, catering to new skiers and snowboarders, and four additional black diamond glade runs. Whistler Mountain is investing $6 million in its Express Gondola building, which will include expanded Guest Services and a new lounge, and a Ski Scamps facility at midstation on the Express. New runs from Highway 86 to Whistler Creek are also being cut.