Whistler has dropped in the annual SKI magazine rankings from last years No. 2 spot to No. 5 this year.
And Whistler went down in several key categories that determine the ranking including value, access, grooming, snow condition, service, lodging, and terrain parks and pipes.
The good news is that Whistler-Blackcomb pulled in the number one spot for terrain, up from fourth last year. It also got fourth place this year for the challenge of the terrain, up from sixth last year.
Vail, Colorado took No. 1 again this year thats the 13 th time in the rankings 17-year history, and its third straight first-place finish.
However, Vail did not score the number one spot in any of the 17 categories surveyed by SKI magazine.
"They do everything at such a high level that the overall score brings them out on top," said Greg Ditrinco, executive editor of SKI, which is based in Colorado.
The magazine gave the number two spot to Deer Valley, Utah. In third place came Snowmass, Colo, and Beaver Creek, Colo was fourth.
Ditrinco said several factors were at work behind the scenes of this years survey, which combined, brought Whistler into fifth place. Among them were the increase in the value of the Canadian dollar, and poorer scores for weather, access and grooming.
"Those four categories working in concert, if they go down even just a few clicks, will drag the score down," he said.
He believes the drop in the value rating (in 2002 Whistler was ninth, last year 13th and this year 28th) follows the rising value of the Canadian dollar against the U.S. greenback.
"(Whistler-Blackcomb) were practically free for so long from the American perspective (since) the exchange rate was just ridiculously cheap," said Ditrinco.
" Now it is at a more reasonable level so the value was taken away and people maybe responding to that."
Vail scored 75th for value, Deer Valley 78th, Snowmass 60th and Beaver Creek 72nd.
Whistlers weather has long been a bone of contention for those who respond to the SKI survey.
This year some of the comments included: "In 10 days of skiing over two visits only saw the top for three days."
Another said: "Fog rain too unreliable to plan in advance. Will never go again. Rained out three separate weeks."
But, said Ditrinco: "Whistler is such a big mountain and the vertical is so long that there are several micro climates in action and even if you have powder up top it is going to be soft at the bottom."