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Tube park hits the slopes

Whistler-Blackcomb build tubing area for upcoming season



There will be a new way to slide down the mountain this season – on inflatable inner tubes.

Whistler-Blackcomb confirmed this week there will be a new Tube Park at Blackcomb’s Base II for the 2005/06 season.

"It’s very exciting," laughed Doug Forseth, senior vice president of operations. "One, if you’ve never tubed, it’s a hoot and two, it’s hard to imagine that a ski area the size of Whistler-Blackcomb hasn’t been able to create a tubing park until now."

For years, Whistler-Blackcomb has been struggling to figure out a way to make a tubing park work, said Forseth. The problem is the narrow ski out areas on the lower mountains.

By moving the small Abracadabra lift at the learner’s area at Base II, Whistler-Blackcomb can create a tube park, serviced by a conveyor lift with six or seven different sliding chutes.

"We’re contouring the lanes so they have different pitches and some will be pretty tame, pretty easy and some will be a little more exciting, so (there’s) something for everyone," said Forseth.

Local father and developer Tim Regan has been pushing to see more family activities in Whistler and welcomed the news.

"I think it’s great and I think it’s also realistic," he said. "And any opportunities we have to have locals interacting with our guests in a fun, dynamic setting, I think it's going to add to the pleasure and experience of the guests because they get to have a glimpse into what our collective consciousness is and what it’s like for us to live in the place."

Regan, who has four children, saw first hand how his kids reacted to a tubing park during a week’s holiday at Big White a couple of years ago.

"We were there for a week and we used it every night," he said. "My kids love it, they were all over it."

He expects they would be using Whistler’s tubing park at least once a week.

A Tourism Whistler study indicated tubing and tobogganing were things visiting families would be very interested in participating in during their stay in the resort.

"We think it’s a great addition," said Arlene Schieven, Tourism Whistler’s vice president of marketing.

The company is also focusing on getting the message out to families that there are lots of things to do in Whistler at reasonable prices.

Whistler-Blackcomb has not yet confirmed the price point of the park but Forseth assures that they will try to keep it "family friendly."

The park will be open every day and under the lights at night until 9 p.m.

"After dinner or after the day people can go up and play in the evening and have a little more fun, in case they didn’t have enough exercise all day long!" said Forseth.

It will be a short distance away from the Whistler Sliding Centre, the home of the 2010 Olympic bobsled, luge and skeleton events. That centre is set to take tourists shuttling down the luge post-Olympics.

Last year in the same area, Whistler-Blackcomb built a new halfpipe for the World Snowboard Championships. That halfpipe is also slated to stay open at night under the lights.

"Eventually as all this gets done it’ll actually be quite a great interconnection of activities up there," said Forseth.

As Whistler-Blackcomb are losing the Abracadabra lift to the tube park, plans are underway to create a new learning terrain at Base II by opening up some more trees in the area.

The new Tube Park meshes with other Whistler-Blackcomb projects for the upcoming season, which focus on improving the family experience on the mountains.