While spring and summer were about three months late, there's a good chance that winter will arrive on time sometime in the month of November - between two and three months from now. So while it seems cruel to bring it up, Whistler Blackcomb has softened the blow this week by announcing several new things for the upcoming 2011-2012 winter season to look forward to.
On the grooming front, Whistler Blackcomb has spent $2.5 million on new grooming equipment, including three new winch cats, three regular groomers, one park cat and one new summer mower.
As for on-mountain facilities, Whistler Blackcomb is once again bringing back the Olympic-sized superpipe with 22-foot walls - one of the only ones in the province - as well as a training pipe with 14-foot walls. Working with Arena Snowparks, Whistler Blackcomb is also doing a major overhaul of all the jib features and is installing new entrances to on-mountain terrain parks.
For ski and snowboardcross athletes, the mountains are upgrading the track on Blackcomb.
As well, a new Dave Murray National Training Centre is being constructed on the Ptarmigan run on Whistler Mountain to serve as an alpine training facility. The new race facility is to be operated by the Whistler Mountain Ski Club.
Also announced is a new Telus Mobile App that allows skiers and snowboarders to track their runs, distance, vertical, speed and other metrics, as well as view maps and share on-mountain photos. More information is at www.whistlerblackcomb.com/app.
The new Max 4 Program ensures that there is never more than four people in a daily adult ski or snowboard lesson. The resort has also reduced class sizes for Whistler Kids Snow School to a maximum of six kids.
A new snow school program announced this year is The Bilodeau All Mountain Workshop, running Dec. 9 to 11 and April 13 to 15, led by Don and Heather Bilodeau and level four ski instructors.
A new three-day Whistler Kids Adventure Camp will be available in Whistler Creek from Mondays to Wednesdays, guaranteeing kids the same instructor to kids for all three days of the camp.
For gadget lovers, free wireless Internet will be provided in partnership with Telus at the Roundhouse Lodge on Whistler, and at the Rendezvous Lodge and Glacier Creek Hut on Blackcomb.
Other initiatives include new food options, the return of Winemakers Aprés sessions, more social media presence on Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, etc.; and various environmental initiatives to reduce energy use.
If these announcements aren't enough to make you a little excited for the winter, also consider that the resort may benefit from La Niña conditions for the third straight year according to some forecasters - and the last two years are the second and third snowiest on record for Whistler Blackcomb.