WSL venues open for summer operations

Electric fat bikes, sliding centre’s Rolling Thunder among summer offerings

While Whistler Sports Legacies’ (WSL) venues may be best known for their winter activities —after all, they did play host to several winter Olympic events — the local organization is gearing up for its biggest summer yet.

Now in its third summer, the public bobsleigh program, dubbed Rolling Thunder, operates seven days a week, bringing four passengers down the track in a bobsleigh equipped with wheels and led by a trained pilot.

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“We started earlier this year, purely because of demand,” explained WSL president Roger Soane, citing significant traffic and higher-than-usual visitor numbers for this early in the season, particularly at the Whistler Sliding Centre track. “Whenever you start something that is so unique and new, it does take time to get some momentum — excuse the pun. This year, we could’ve opened even earlier. We were getting demand right from April from people who wanted to do Rolling Thunder.”

While the sliding centre had to remain closed throughout the spring shoulder season in order to facilitate maintenance on the track, the venue opened for corporate business at the beginning of June before opening its doors to the public towards the end of last month. “So far, so good,” Soane said. “Obviously Whistler is going through another great season and the numbers of people in the Village are up and we seem to be getting a good share of them, which is great.”

While adults can shell out $99 for the experience, one youth (aged 12 to 18) per paying adult can also ride for free, with additional youth receiving 50 per cent off. “We want to make sliding a great family activity, so we are continuing our kids free during the season… We found that that was a great offer last year,” Soane explained.

Meanwhile at Whistler Olympic Park, visitors can rent out electric assist fat tire bikes by the hour to cruise around the park’s trail network (open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) Since opening for summer operations on June 24, this summer is marking the park’s second offering the bike rentals. They “were a great hit last year,” Soane said. “Just generally sightseeing around the park, looking at the jumps — the best way to really see the park is on a fat bike, because you can get so much further.”

Whistler Olympic Park is also offering visitors the opportunity to try out biathlon throughout the summer months, in keeping with the Olympic theme. Under the guidance of an instructor, participants can test their aim while shooting a tradition biathlon rifle at a marked target. “Whistler Olympic Park is essentially a work in progress,” Soane explained. “We’re looking at different options for the summer and we have some great ideas, but this summer we’ll continue on with what we’ve done in the past.”

Going forward, Soane stressed the importance of developing activities that are unique to Whistler, as opposed to competing with other private companies and tour operators in the area. “That’s what we’ll try to focus on — looking at things that are completely new to Whistler. We don’t need more of the same, we need different things so that it extends people’s stays and gives them more activities while they’re in the resort.”

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