With 2018 marking both Whistler Olympic Park’s 10th anniversary of operations and an Olympic year, the team at Whistler Sports Legacies (WSL) was looking for a way to celebrate.
“Over the summer we were thinking about the 10 years of skiing here and wanted to find something to draw attention to the fact that there’s been skiing here and how we can introduce people to the park that maybe haven’t been here before, and also provide some additional skiing opportunities for everyone to come out,” explained Tim Hope, Whistler Olympic Park’s managing director.
To that end, Friday (Jan. 12) will mark the kick-off of WOP’s “Celebration Friday Nights” series. For four Fridays in a row (including Jan. 19, 26 and Feb. 2) from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m., participants will be able to attend discounted beginner ski clinics, with a different skills focus each week.
The family-friendly evenings are also offering trail tickets and rentals for $10 per person, while the ski clinics, aimed for participants aged seven and older, can be booked for $20.
“We thought our night product has been doing well over the past few years and it’s a good opportunity for folks to come in and see the park. It’s a good way to introduce everyone here and hopefully bring them back to see the rest of our trail network during the day and the rest of what we have to offer,” Hope said.
While these sessions all aim to build participants’ ski skills and confidence, the Jan. 12 clinic will focus on classic cross-country skiing, while participants can learn to skate ski on Jan. 19. Sessions scheduled for Jan. 26 will focus on “ski play,” which will see skiers spend most of the 45-minute session honing their balancing skills in WOP’s Nordic terrain park.
“It has some gates for kids to go around, it has some banked turns, small little jumps, some drop-offs, bicycle bumps that are offset sort of hills — rolling features, I guess,” Hope explained. “Just fun gravity features.”
The series will culminate on the final Friday (Feb. 2) with a Nordic Ski Orienteering Challenge for teams of all abilities — though two different courses will be offered, one for beginners and another for intermediate or advanced abilities. Entry costs $20 per team (with teams of up to eight people), with prize draws for successful teams and another prize for best team costume (in celebration of the Winter Olympics, teams are encouraged to dress in their favourite country’s colours).
“It’s just fun, we want everyone to just come out and have a great time under the stars, hopefully,” Hope explained. “We recognize nights as a time for families to come out, for friends to come out, for everyone to come connect in the day lodge and out of the trails. We figured a team-based challenge with a little bit of a theme with the Olympic colours and looking for the best costumes would be something that would fit.”
The new Friday night initiative is one more affordable, accessible opportunity for those looking to get more involved in Nordic skiing since WOP launched cheap Wednesday night skiing two seasons ago. Since then, interest in the sport, and the park, has been growing, Hope added.
“We’ve seen an increase in classic lessons this year, which is interesting,” he said. “We saw an uptake in visitation last year over the year prior, and we’re seeing a bit of a trend in that as well this year. We’re really excited to see people here and skiing.”
Pre-registration is recommended for both the clinics and the Nordic Orienteering Challenge. More information on the Celebration Friday Nights and registration for the ski clinics is available at whistlerolympicpark.com/celebrationfridays, or by phone at 604-964-0060 x 2460.