Welcoming the (vaccinated) world back to Whistler

After a long wait during the pandemic, the largest destination ski resort in North America is preparing to welcome vaccinated skiers back to the slopes.

September 20, 2021 – Whistler, British Columbia – crews work on maintenance of snowmaking machinery. (Photo by Jimmy Jeong)

Last year’s ski season at Whistler Blackcomb, the largest destination ski resort in North America, was shortened by the pandemic and alarming number of local COVID-19 cases fueled by spring break trips and celebration in downtown. Travel restrictions further limited any visions skiers might have about powder-covered peaks and glowing, merry runs.

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Preparing to welcome the (vaccinated) world back to the slopes for next season is no small matter. Before the first snowflake even falls, the resort’s set of 39 snow cats must be stripped, serviced and ready to meet it. Every night of the season, as skiers dream of fresh tracks, the snow cats will smooth the wrinkles and wrinkles of the previous day into a uniform rope pattern. Like the elves of Santa, their efforts are invisible, gift wrapping the mountain in smooth, white snow destined to be eagerly shredded in the morning. For those eager to return to great mountain skiing, these simple pleasures — cutting tracks into an impure piste, a spray of fluffy powder — are unlikely to be reconsidered.

Whistler Blackcomb’s ski season this year will run from November 25 to May 2022.

This article is printed in the November 2021 issue of Maclean’s a magazine with the title, “Welcoming the (vaccinated) world back to Whistler.” Subscribe to the monthly print magazine here.

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