Sunday, February 18, 2018

Canadian Whistler Challenge after French Mont Blanc

Winter Olympics 2018 is in progress right now.  The eyes of the world are focused on PyeonChang, South Korea until February 25. Now is the right time to post about winter sports - Alpine and Nordic ski competitions, ski jumps and cross country games. PyeonChang will surely appeal with the newly constructed facilities they have been preparing since their successful bid in 2009. Entering into the second week of January, South & North Korea representatives suddenly met at Panmunjom, the border town along the demilitarized zone and agreed to form one unified Olympic team, the women’s ice hockey team, in particular. One surprising news item is to utilize Masikryong Ski Resort built in 2013 by Kim Jong-un for skier training.  Could it be disguised as a peace gesture by the North?   

My friend Kim in Yokohama. who traveled to ski at the Les Arc near Mont Blanc in 2000, sent me her postcard last year from Mt. Whistler in Canada, the Vancouver Winter Olympic venue site of 2010. She wrote her ski companions chose the destination to be the American Continent and their consensus was Mt. Whistler, rather than Denver, Colorado. There is a direct flight from Tokyo to Vancouver, and easy access to Whistler from Vancouver, thanks to renovated amenities.  Fifty years ago I was thrilled to have taken the fast track route via Canadian Pacific from Tokyo to Vancouver, then straight down to Mexico City. I hadn't heard the name Whistler then. Whistler came as a latecomer, bidding on the Olympics since 1968 and succeeded finally in 2010.

I was amazed looking at their daily ski activity schedule for the group from February 24 to March 4, 2017.  Excluding flight time over the Pacific, they had 9 days in Whistler, 8 days of full skiing from morning until twilight, enjoying lunch and breathers in between, one day for rest and souvenir shopping.  There seems to be a total of 37 ski lifts or gondolas and a few hundred ski trails, each depending on skills at Whistler & Blackcomb and Kim wrote she had conquered one third of all the trails in 8 days. That's a marvelous accomplishment. I asked how she compared it to a European ski resort. Her comment was that Whistler-Blackcomb exceeds Europe in public amenities. European entries to facilities were somewhat prohibitive.  But Europe compensates the difference with history and traditions. What caught my curiosity on their activity table is “P2P” appearing often.  Googling P2P on Whistler-Blackcomb Ski Resort trail Map, I found it to be the world’s first and highest lift to connect two side-by-side mountains, length 4.4 km, altitude 436 m built in 2013, coming a little too late for the 2010 Olympics. Must be a stunning ride that makes you feel you are on top of the world.  

She wrote also about the new Audain Art Museum at Whistler Village on their day of rest, a happy-surprise encounter which never crossed their minds to visit before the trip. She might have missed it without the advice of their local travel agent.  The museum just opened in March 2016 attended by the local philanthropist Michael Audain and his wife Yoshiko Karasawa. This museum had fifty thousand visitors in a year already. Kim sent me some photos of the museum and I saw the spectacular wood terraced entrance and design of the structure. Many Japanese Toastmasters visited Vancouver last August to attend its International Conference there. I wonder how many people dropped into Whistler?  I had been invited personally by the BC division Toastmasters. I wish I could've joined them in Whistler.


rio imamura said...

Rio, very interesting. Kye and I are now watching the Olympics on TV. It will be interesting also to see North Koreas attitude after the Olympics are over. ..............Al

Al, thank you for your quick comment. You were in Seoul last summer. PyeonChang should be easy reach from Seoul. We too watch the hot games every day. Exciting. rio

rio imamura said...

Arigato, Rio, it's a very interesting story about Whistler area.
Still midwinter in cold, snowy Winnipeg! All the best, Rob

Thank you, Rob for your visit. I'm impressed with your early Feb news of Guinness record of longest skating chain raising 146k$ at Winnipeg Red River at the Forks Trail. rio