This year marks Whistler Blackcomb’s 50th Anniversary and is a befitting time to look back at some of the pivotal moments that shaped Whistler’s history. The #1 Ski Resort in North America, which started out as a sparkle in the eyes of a couple businessmen 66 years ago, has had its fair share of glory moments. If you are new to Whistler you may have only read or heard about these pivotal times. Those lucky enough to have experienced some of these historic moments are most probably left with memories that resonate deep within. Let’s take a look, at 8 Moments That Shaped Whistler Blackcomb.
1. The Formation of Garibaldi Lift Ltd.
The formation of Garibaldi Lift Ltd. by a group of businessmen in 1960 was the inception of today’s Whistler Blackcomb. What was then called London Mountain was destined in the eyes of these men to host the 1968 Olympic Games. Although their dream wasn’t realized as quickly as desired, London Mountain was soon to evolve into one of the biggest and best ski resorts in the world.
2. Garibaldi Whistler Mountain (formally London Mountain) Opens for Skiing
In 1966 Garibaldi Whistler Mountain opened for business. What is now called Creekside was the original Whistler Village. There were four lifts in total servicing the mountain at this time: A four person gondola connecting the Village to mid-station, a double chair-lift to the alpine, and two T-bars on the mountain.
3. Blackcomb Mountain Opens
Creating one of the biggest mountain rivalries in the world, Blackcomb Mountain opened its lifts and runs in December 1980. The race to supremacy between Whistler and Blackcomb was a dream come true for skiers in the 80’s and 90’s as both mountains competed to have the best runs, the best lifts and the best overall offering for their customers.
4. Merging of Whistler Blackcomb
The mountain stand-off ceased in March 1997 when Whistler and Blackcomb merged to create one of the world’s greatest ski resorts. The seemingly seamless integration between the two rival mountains opened up vast terrain for skiers and riders.
5. First Snowboard Gold Medal at the 1998 Olympics
The first ever gold medal for snow-boarding was awarded to Whistler snowboarder Ross Rebagliati at the 1998 Olympics in Nagano. This gold medal win helped launched a generation of young snowboarders who would soon dominate the terrain on Whistler Blackcomb.
6. Mountain Biking Makes Its Mark
Whistler’s summer season officially launched with the opening of the Whistler Mountain Bike Park in 1999- a lift-assisted network of trails for mountain bikers. Fast forward 17 years and Whistler’s summer season is starting to rival the winter for visitor numbers, room-nights and world-class festivals. Who would have seen back in the 1960’s Whistler’s destiny as a mountain bike mecca?
7. Opening of the Peak to Peak Gondola
An engineering feat the Peak to Peak Gondola, connecting the peaks of Whistler and Blackcomb Mountain, re-shaped the way people moved on the mountain and opened up the alpine to hikers and site-seers in the summer. To date, the Peak to Peak has broken three world records: The longest un-supported span of 3.024 kilometers, the highest lift of its kind at 436 meters off the valley floor, and the completion of the longest continuing lift system in the world.
8. 2010 Olympics
In 2010 the dream of the original founders of Whistler was realized. For those who were present in Whistler Village the night when the Olympic Committee announced Vancouver and Whistler would host the 2010 games can surely attest to the mass euphoria experienced by all in attendance. The 2010 Olympic Games saw substantial investment in the resort including the Whistler Sliding Centre, Olympic Park and Olympic Plaza. A brand new highway made Whistler more easily accessible and the world got a glimpse of Whistler’s magic, enticing many new visitors in the years to follow.
What a whirlwind 50 years it has been at Whistler Blackcomb, it is hard to imagine where the mountain resort will be in another 50. Will Whistler notch another Olympics on its belt in the coming years? What else will be revealed in terms of lift engineering and architecture on the mountain? What will be the names and faces of athletes setting records and winning medals in the future? What kind of incredible events and festivals will be held? Listel Hotel Whistler is proud to be part of Whistler’s journey to 50 and is excited to be along for the ride as we continue into the next chapter of Whistler Blackcomb’s journey