Sports » Features

Year in review

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By Andrew Mitchell

In a nutshell, sports and recreation are Whistler’s reason for being. Some people do come here to rest, but they’d do better to find themselves a sleepy bed and breakfast somewhere that prides itself on being boring. Since the beginning Whistler has been the place that people come to do stuff.

The first tourists to flock here up the new rail line in the 1920s came to fish, swim and hike, and generally enjoy the surroundings. We can assume they sat down at least some of that time, but you won’t find any evidence of that in the old photographs in our museum and archives.

Whistler Mountain was itself conceived as a venue for the Olympic Winter Games, as a group of Vancouver businessmen lobbied long and hard to become Canada’s official bid and bring the rings to town.

It took 35 years to finally win the Games, but the town was hardly idle in that time. Over the decades Whistler became a four season sports and recreation haven synonymous with the best of summer and winter sports.

A very high level look at our sports and recreation venues tells the story.

Obviously the crown jewel of the town is Whistler and Blackcomb, two mountains that combine to form the largest ski area in North America (third-largest in the world) with award winning terrain and terrain parks. The mountains hosts contest after contest through the winter months, ranging from casual local events to some of the world’s premier ski and snowboard competitions.

The mountains also host several successful competitive clubs over the winter, including the Whistler Mountain Ski Club, the Whistler Blackcomb Freestyle Club, the Whistler Valley Snowboard Club, and Whistler Freeride Club. Virtually every kid in town is on the roster of at least one of these groups.

In the summer months Whistler Mountain becomes the world’s most recognized lift-accessed bike park, an amenity that is growing is size and complexity each year. This year an indoor bike jumping facility was added. The bike park also makes the Crankworx freeride mountain bike festival possible. Last year’s Crankworx included six high profile in addition to the national downhill championships and a Canada Cup cross country race.

Mountain biking is also healthy elsewhere around the valley, with an estimated 300 km of cycling trails — including 160 km of singletrack riding, mostly located in a radius of about 10 km from the centre of the village. As a result Whistler boasts one of the largest mountain bike clubs in the world in WORCA, with over 1,000 members for five out of the last six years.

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