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Our family of four had a splendid holiday vacation at Whistler Blackcomb, Canada, this winter. Since we have been enjoying extended skiing expedition as a winter holiday vacation at Whistler for the last 15 years (except last year when we visited Hokkaido, Japan, instead for the first time), it felt like a resumption of our family “tradition.” Hokkaido was cold, beautiful and fantastic for skiing last year, but Whistler was as wonderful this year – for a change from last 5 years or so. The low-temperature and snow-filled weather tremendously helped this winter resort to claim some of the best skiing condition after a spate of warm weather spells, particularly of last year. Snow was abundant; it was cold but sunny during the day (perhaps the coldest climate we have ever experienced at Whistler). In short, Whistler provided perfect weather for visitors to enjoy winter sports. What was somewhat unusual this season was that the visitors were less international than previous years. A great many visitors seemed from Vancouver, Canada, and Washington, USA, while the majority of the workers seemed from Australia. Perhaps, this is due to the weak Euro, yuan, etc., as well as to the fact that we came to Whistler after Christmas this year. (It seems Christmas through New Year’s Eve is the prime time at Blackcomb Whistler.) Nevertheless, over the New Year’s weekend the skiing resort was packed with people, necessitating a long wait before getting on the gondolas which take people up to the mountains from the Whistler village.

This year, my husband and I took up another winter sport, snowshoeing. We signed up for a guided snowshoe tour and participated in a two-hour snowshoe hike guided by a young Australian woman. We and a family of 4 (parents and 2 teen-age boys from Vancouver, Canada) followed the guide through a very narrow path (if one can call that) in the wooded area of the Whistler mountain. We observed a great many tree wells disguised as packed snow and at times slid down the narrow sharp slopes on our backs. We slid down the slope one by one, and after landing on a level spot called out, “Next,” to signal the following person to do the same. Interestingly, often times we could not hear the signal at the upper ground perhaps because the snow absorbed most of the voice sound vibrations. The narrow paths were filled with tree twigs and branches that could hit our faces as the preceding person moved past them. (It is important to leave enough distance between you and the preceding person if you do not want to be hit by these sharp twigs and branches. Our guide did not know the identity of these trees, so I cannot say what those deceptively treacherous little trees were.) On the whole, snowshoeing was quite enjoyable, but I believe unless one knows the area very well one should snowshoe only with a guide or a knowledgeable person to void dangers, such as getting stuck in tree wells or getting lost.

Another new experience we had this winter was Whistler Blackcomb’s free “Fire and Ice Show,” which is held every Sunday night at the “Skiers’ Plaza” at Whistler village. First, 3 hotdog skiers and 3 snowboarders practiced their acrobatic movements, such as jumps, flips, and backflips, on the quickly made snow hills. After they barreled down the slopes they were towed to the top of the hill by snow mobiles. They practiced their moves for about 15 minutes, and then fireworks signaled the beginning of the show. Young women with fire fans (?) and fire hula-hoops began to dance to produce the ambience of a spectacle. Then, the hotdog skiers and snowboarders jumped through a ring of fire while performing spectacular tricks which one often sees in the winter Olympic Games. After 20 minutes of individual slides the 6 snow athletes jumped through the ring of fire in a rapid succession, signaling the finale. The entire show was capped by firework spectacle that lasted 3 minutes or so. It was very cold (about 15F) but the entire show was fun and invigorating.

Our winter vacation 2015-16 was excellent at Blackcomb Whistler. But, in addition to the winter sports, my husband and I enjoy the Whistler holiday vacation because it has a number of great restaurants in such a confined space. The restaurants are fantastic at Whistler, but it is necessary to make dinner reservations at least a few weeks ahead of time if one wants to dine at good restaurants in Whistler, particularly during the Christmas and New Year’s Day.

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