Opinion » Maxed Out

Virtually true...



I wish it was Saturday. I know it's Thursday. Well, actually it's Tuesday but if you're reading this it has to be at least Thursday. At the earliest. Of course it may be later in the week or even some day in next week. But I wish it was Saturday. You should too. In fact, if it's not already Saturday maybe you should just stop now and read this on Saturday. If it's after Saturday, you can pretend it's Saturday again.

That's all I have to say about days of the week.

But it's not all I have to say about the pending Whistler Soccer Mahal. I'm actually kind of excited. After the muni budgeted $150k last year to do a "needs" assessment of an artificial turf field they discovered — quelle surprise — we needed one. This year they've budgeted $160k to study where to build it, even though they already know where to build it unless they want to spend a whole lot more to build it somewhere other than the place it'll cost the least to build. They know it'll cost $2.7 million to put it down at Cheakamus Crossing. The next cheapest place is Myrtle Philip Community School and that'd cost almost $4 million. It goes up from there.

But if they know that already, why the six figures to decide what they already know?

I asked my buddy, J.J. Geddyup — Whistler's only private eye — to nose around. He did. This is what he found.

There isn't going to be any artificial turf field. Covering the ground with a petroleum product wouldn't be sustainable, after all. And Whistler is sustainable. And oh-so green.

The new plan is to build a completely enclosed, high-tech turf field. A soccer parent's wet dream. The reason it has to be completely enclosed — other than providing chi-chi change rooms and four-season playing conditions for up and coming stars, is because it takes very special lights to grow the high-tech, tougher-than-nails turf.

I know what you're thinking. Mega bucks. And you're right. It's a costly proposition. It's a project that'll make Gateway Loop seem like chump change. But our very forward-thinking managers and elected officials at muni hall haven't entirely lost their minds. It's a paying proposition! They know what the future holds and they've boldly moved ahead to take advantage of it. Smart like a fox.

During the many hours no one will be playing soccer in the facility, those special lights will not just be growing that high-tech turf. It'll be growing what is destined to become world-famous B.C. Bud. The soccer-mahal is a front for the first and largest municipally owned grow op in Canada! Whistler, you rock... and roll.

When Justin announces pot is legal from coast to coast to coast in Canada, the RMOW will be filing the patent papers for Whistler Wowie and the rest will be a hazy history of high times and pot tourism destined to take the town's unofficial skiing motto — Ski like a local: get high; stay high! — to the next level.

Way to go council. No artificial turf, money for nothin', chicks for free. This is even better than Christy's LNG strategy.

But that's not the only good (?) news this week.

Our corporate overlord, Vail Corp, announced bold plans for next season. After positive response to their assimilation of Whistler Blackcomb, recent forays into the rest of the ski world, and record-breaking uptake of their Epic and Epic-Lite passes, they've partnered with Pixar and, tentatively, announced the new Epic Epic pass.

Epic Epic, or E2 as it's been dubbed, is such an, well, epic idea, it has to be experienced to be believed, or so the marketing hype goes.

What's the biggest barrier to bringing more people into the skiing experience? Cost, for sure. Inconvenience is another major one. After all, it's quite a hassle gathering all the gear, stuffing it in the SUV, getting the kids to stop whining, and driving, or worse yet, flying to the resort. And then there is the logistical nightmare of getting everyone on the slopes, in classes, and rounded up in the same place at the same time at the end of the day. Caramba!

Cost is why Vail conjured up the Epic pass in the first place. Sell everyone on an inexpensive-ish pass that lets them ski at some of the best resorts in the world, locks them into places Vail owns and then charges them out the wazoo for everything else that comes with the experience.

E2 takes it to the next level and solves all those inconvenient, logistical, getting cold toes and fingers problems. It delivers "authentic" skiing experiences directly into your home... and your brain... and your centres of proprioception. E2 is virtually reality on steroids. For approximately the cost of an Epic pass, you can outfit yourself with the VailsPlayStationExperience, a stand-alone box that connects via USB into your home computer. Along with the VPSE box, you get virtual reality goggles that look remarkably like ski goggles, and a harness of stimulators — don't call them electrodes — to slap onto strategic points of your body.

So far, so good.

But the magic begins when, for about the price of a single day's lift ticket — projected to be around C$200 next season — you download a suite of Epic skiing experiences you can enjoy for one day in the comfort of your own home. Want to know what it looks and feels like to be Bode Miller hurtling down the Hahnenkamm downhill in Kitzbuhel? Skiing effortlessly down the steepest slopes Haines has to offer? Gliding through glades on a bluebird day? Non-stop face shots in champagne powder on endless runs? Dropping heart-stopping cliffs? Whatever you can imagine you can experience. All the gut-wrenching thrills, all the heart-pounding, thigh-burning drama. E2 will deliver every sensation, every muscle contraction, every exhausting breath with absolutely no chance of winding up in the nearest emergency room requiring life saving surgery.

Best of all, you can be selective about which sensations you experience. Want to ski but don't want to freeze? Dial down the temperature sensations. Want that free-as-a-bird cliff hucking feeling but not the knees-in-the jaw hard landing? No problem. E2 lets you custom tailor your ski vacation without ever leaving your rumpus room.

As an extra bonus for those of us who prefer our reality, well, real, E2 promises to get the Jerrys and poseurs off the slopes and keep 'em home where they belong, fiddling with their computers.

Who said there was no upside to this brave new corporate world?

Oh, if only it were Saturday. C'est la vie.