Whistler Winter Fun, Downhill Skiing Not Included

The 2010 Olympic Winter games boosted Whistler into the spotlight and it never left. Just a scenic two-hour drive from Vancouver, the mountain resort is a winner with skiers and snowboarders. But there’s so much happening off the slopes, you can leave the gear at home at home and still get your fill of snow and ice.

Cross Country Skiing

Ever given cross-country skiing a try? If I can do it, anyone can.

Some basic ski knowledge, like knowing how to snow plow or wedge will help, but it’s not a necessity. Give yourself an hour or two with an instructor from Cross Country Connection at the Lost Lake PassivHaus and you’ll be amazed at the ground you can cover while cross country skiing. Once you get the timing and rhythm down, (for me it was a shuffle, shuffle, glide exercise that made everything kind of click) the fun increases with your confidence. It won’t take long to enjoy the sheer quiet and stretches of scenery you have to yourself. It’s such a change from typically crowded downhill slopes.

Peak 2 Peak Gondola

You need no skiing ability whatsoever to take in the views from the Peak 2 Peak Gondola. Spanning the distance between Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains, it’s the longest and highest lift in the world. The ride is a little under three miles long in length (2.73 miles to be exact) and takes 11 minutes to make it from one side to the other.

Technically it holds three world records. It has the longest unsupported span in the world at 1.88 miles. At 1,427 feet above the valley floor, it’s the highest lift of its kind in the world and it completes the longest continuous lift system on the planet. Sightseers, skiers and snowboarders all use it and love it.

Bobsleigh Bucket List

The Whistler Sliding Centre hosted the bobsleigh, luge and skeleton competitions at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games. Today it’s used for on-going athlete training, but during the winter season the public can also go for the ride of a lifetime. It’s definitely one of those activities that falls into the ‘bucket list’ category.

Three passengers and a professional pilot together on the world’s fastest track. The trained bobsleigh pilot does the technical work, but you’re not just sitting there. Flying through twists and turn at speeds of 75 miles per hour and possibly plus takes some work. You will feel G forces several times your body weight pushing down on your body, up to 4 G forces as you make the final push to the finish line. Mind you, you’re not doing the full run. These rides begin at the Novice Start which is only about half way up the track that’s about a mile in length.

They go over all the details during an orientation session. Where to put your feet, and where to hold on and how to best position your body. It’s a lot to take in, but don’t worry, they’ll go through it again when it’s time to actually slide and when you’re looking at the bobsleigh, it all makes sense. Because of the forces put on your body, there are some safety requirements. You must be at least 16 years old, weigh under 240 pounds and be between 4’6” and 6’6” in height.

Fire & Ice Show

If you’re in town on a Sunday night, the Fire & Ice Show is worth braving the cold. This is where Whistler’s best skiers and snowboarders get to show off what they can do. And it’s pretty amazing. With the music blasting they warm up with twists and turns and all sorts of tricks high up in the air. Then the ring of fire goes up and the crowd’s hooked. Fireworks close the free show.

The crowds gathers at the base of Whistler Mountain. If you want to be upfront, get there early. I’d say a good half-hour early. There will be music playing, trivia questions and they typically give away all sorts of prizes. Kids will love it – but you have to keep everyone warm! So bundle up before you head out.

The show happens every Sunday night, about 6:30pm, during winter months.

Dana’s trip was hosted by Destination British Columbia and Tourism Whistler, but as always her thoughts and opinions are her own.

Dana’s weekends spent exploring the San Francisco Bay Area outnumber those at home in wine country, but her favorite trips require a passport and typically a destination with warm sand and blue water. Along with travel, Dana writes about food, wine and anything fun. Find her on Twitter @drebmann and Instagram @danarebmann

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