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Wonderful Whistler

© By Mike Keenan

  I stroll through the town of Whistler, B.C., sizing up the venue for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. The village, nestled snugly at the base of Blackcomb and Whistler Mountains, a short drive from Vancouver, is a photographer's dream for broad, natural panoramas. This day, Whistler is smartly presented and spotless à la Disneyworld. Impressed, I watch as doggy-do is scooped up in record time before tourists like me despoil our shoes.
     To get here, we travel aboard a Perimeter Express van that twists and turns along the way from North Vancouver on the Sea to Sky Highway (#99), a spectacular stretch that produces rubber necks from gawking at beautiful mountains, attractive shore lines and cascading waterfalls set amidst salmon-streaked rivers that attract the world's largest migration of bald eagles.
     In two hours, we arrive at the year-round resort that attracts both skiers and golfers challenged by courses designed by famed greats, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus. In the summer, Whistler attracts adrenalin maniacs who race down bald slopes aboard mountain bikes. These fearless riders, equipped with firm protective plastic gear attached to arms and legs, remind me of the storm troopers in Star Wars. I surmise that the men, inevitably, after a few runs, all sport high pitched voices.
     In typical fashion, Vancouver was blasé about the anticipated Olympics and Paralympics, but Whistler seemed energized with anticipation. Our chalet faced the two large mountains, Blackcomb and Whistler. Sipping coffee beside the gurgling hot tub, I imagine Olympic skiers racing down snowy slopes to the fan-filled base, in hopes of a gold medal or jumpers effortlessly sailing off the end of a platform sailing into the frigid air like a bird, maximizing time in space, aiming for the longest distance possible.
     Amidst the spectacular Coast Mountains, 75 miles (120 km.) north of Vancouver, the beautiful alpine village boasts the greatest mountain vertical lift in North America. Blackcomb rises one full vertical mile with Whistler just behind at 5,020 ft., accordingly providing the longest ski season in Canada from November to August. One attribute that competitive skiers will need in 2010 is patience. The ski-lift is the world's longest 10-passenger gondola which takes well over 20 minutes to arrive near the top. Nevertheless, Whistler is rated the number one ski resort in North America by many skiing publications.
     In the tidy, inviting village, a large selection of restaurants, shops, cafés and nightclubs are staffed by young adventurers from Europe, Australia and New Zealand.
     The Sea to Sky Games occasion the usual arguments about how money should be best spent; however, it appears that the economic and infrastructure spin offs from the winning bid will be far-reaching. This includes new and improved local sport and recreational facilities and a regional transit system.
     In a frigid country where snow and ice are inescapable unless one retires to Florida, it's no surprise that Canadians excel in winter sports. We ranked fourth in overall medals taken in the last Olympic Winter Games and sixth at the Paralympics Winter Games.
     Here, real estate is pricey. The average Whistler property sells for well over $1 million! In 2010, rentals will be hard to find at any price.

Mike Keenan writes for QMI Agency (Sun Media) Canada's largest newspaper publisher, printing 44 daily newspapers as well as a web portal, Canoe.ca. Besides regular columns for the St. Catharines Standard, Welland Tribune and Niagara Falls Review. Mike has been published in the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, Buffalo Spree, Stitches, West of the City and Hamilton-Burlington's View Magazine. His work is found in QMI published dailies such as the Toronto Sun, Ottawa Sun, Vancouver Sun, London Free Press, Calgary Sun, Winnipeg Sun and Edmonton Sun. Click for Whistler, British Columbia Forecast

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Mike Keenan

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