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Whistler takes top spot in Skiing magazine ranking

Rankings by various publications important collectively in determining visitors’ needs

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Whistler has taken top spot for the third year in a row in the U.S.-based Skiing magazine rankings released this week.

"We are thrilled and it really confirms where we think we should be," said Whistler-Blackcomb’s senior vice-president of sales Stuart Rempel.

Second place this year went to Alta/Snowbird, Utah, and third place went to Vail, Colorado. Closer to home, Crystal Mountain in Washington state came in seventh.

Earlier this month Whistler did a bit of a face-plant when it fell from second place to fifth in the SKI magazine rankings. Of most concern to the mountains at that time was the perception in the SKI reader-survey that the resort was not offering good value.

Rempel said the rising Canadian dollar was playing a significant role in that equation. But, he added, value driven strategies already in place are paying off now with winter bookings beginning to look good.

SKI and Skiing magazines are sister publications, based in Colorado, but they cater to different readers. SKI focuses on the ski-lifestyle and covers material for both single and family readers. Skiing is geared more toward the younger skier who is looking for a bit more of an athletic adventure on the mountain.

"The fact is that Skiing magazine is the magazine of winter adventure and we are an incredible adventure to any skier or snowboarder," said Rempel.

"Given the size of the place, the variety of terrain, the variety of conditions you can encounter, and the different places you can find yourself on our mountain, it is like 10 of any other mountain.

"I think it really confirms why we are number one in this magazine."

However, said Rempel, this is only one magazine ranking.

"We are still expecting a number of others in which we have done very well in the past," he said.

The rankings collectively are important because they help resorts understand what visitors are looking for, said Rempel. They are used along with resort-based research to formulate strategies to improve the guest experience.

"When you look at them all it establishes the position that a resort has and I think it does guide a number of people’s decisions on where to vacation," said Rempel.

"We look at this in balance with the research that we do with people who are here on the mountain and all these forms of feedback do guide us in terms of what our guests are looking for and what they deem is important."

This latest ranking in Skiing magazine is based not only on a reader survey of up to 2,000 people but also on the feedback from 75 athletes.

Added to the survey is the amount of vertical the mountains offer, the snowfall and the skiable acres, all checked by independent researchers. The nightlife is also part of the survey.

"When you take all of the criteria for the top 25 rankings there is nothing you could really do to beat Whistler on every level," said Skiing magazine executive editor Mike Kessler.

"Some resorts may have more steeps, or more snow, or may have an even better nightlife scene, but when you add it all up Whistler just blows (our readers and our demographic) away."

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