Winter is coming. And it will last, give or take, about six months from opening day on Saturday, Nov. 17 to closing day in late May or early June.
From start to finish, Whistler is a busy, active resort with regular events for everybody and anybody, from race and terrain park series to weekly cross-country races that are open to all who have a sense of adventure. Most of these events also reward participation over skill with draw prizes ranging from skis and snowboards to electronics just for taking part.
Here's a quick look at some of the on-mountain events taking place this year:
Kokanee Valley Race Series
The Kokanee Valley Race Series is one of the longest running race series in Whistler, inviting everyone from age 19 to age 90 to test their edges on Thursdays through the winter. The field includes everyone from recreational skiers to former national team members, from young racers to retired men and women in the 60s, 70s and 80s.
There are eight races on the schedule this year. The exact format for each race is still being decided but it kicks off with a giant slalom on Dec. 13 on Gandy Dancer/Ross's Gold. Future events are Jan. 3, Jan. 10, Jan. 24, Feb. 21, Feb. 28, Mar. 14 and Mar. 21.
If you register in advance at Whistler Blackcomb Guest Relations the cost is $30 for individual events, or $35 if you sign on the day of the race. If you don't have a lift pass then there's a $99 rate available and if you wish to participate in all eight races you can pay $200 up front. Helmets are mandatory for all races this year, and all participants are eligible to win draw prizes at the post-race awards at The Mountain Club at the Westin Resort and Hotel.
Park Rider Ski and Snowboard Events
There are five terrain park events on the schedule this year, professionally judged and targetted to skiers and snowboarders of all ages. All events are based on the slopestyle format, with no dedicated rail jams or halfpipe contests.
The opening event is an "All-Rounder Park Jam on Dec. 16 on Blackcomb Mountain, followed by a 13 and Under Slopestyle on Dec. 30, and slopestyle events on Jan. 6, Feb. 10 and Mar. 24.
If you pre-register for events the cost is $29, going up to $35 on the event day. As well, helmets are mandatory and mouth guards recommended at events.
If you've never seen a local competition this one is a great one to take in — a lot of the competitors are a step below professional, and a few of Canada's top up-and-coming freeskiers and snowboarders got their start in these events.