Go for the Gold
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Whistler Sliding Centre
The Skeleton Experience Program at the Whistler Sliding Centre is the ultimate fantasy for any kid who has ever strapped on a toboggan, thrown caution to the wind and hurled herself down a steep hill. It teaches otherwise sane individuals how to lie on a sled the size of a serving platter and race head-first down one of the steepest and most technical courses in the world at speeds approaching 62 mph (100 km/h). Less extreme thrill seekers will still get a kick out of the center’s museum with its bobsleds, bodysuits and virtual-reality bobsled ride – complete with simulated wind and a rumble seat.
Peak 2 Peak Gondola
For all of its impressive engineering records, which include its status as the world’s longest unsupported span (1.9 miles/3 kilometers) and position as highest lift of its kind (1,430 feet/436 meters from the valley floor), Peak 2 Peak’s greatest asset is simply its stunning view. Surrounded by glaciers and permanently snow-capped peaks on all sides, passengers brave enough to look way, way down might just spot a family of black bears cavorting among the pines. A boon to skiers in the winter, the gondola also offers access to pristine alpine hiking on both Whistler and Blackcomb mountains in the summer.
Dave Murray Downhill
Named after one of the original “Crazy Canucks,” four members of Canada’s legendary downhill ski team of the late ’70s and early ’80s, the Dave Murray course starts to the right of the Garbanzo chairlift on Whistler Mountain and plummets nearly 1,000 vertical meters (0.62 miles) across 3 kilometers (1.86 miles). During the Vancouver Olympics, this already steep, slithering run was salted and sprinkled with water so that it froze solid as a curling rink – that’s how the racers like it. It’s a lot softer these days and accessible to confident skiers. But don’t be disappointed if it takes you longer than gold-medal winner Didier Defago’s 1:54 seconds – he was going about 93 mph (150 km/h).
Whistler Olympic Park
The Callaghan Valley, about 6.2 miles (10 kilometers) from the main village, is home to Whistler Olympic Park, host venue of the traditional Nordic events at the 2010 Games. Strap on your skis or snowshoes and test your endurance on the 55 miles (90 kilometers) of groomed trails. Or, if you’ve got a keen eye and a steady hand, learn to shoot at one of the most advanced biathlon facilities in the world. The absurdly fit staff can even teach you how to ski jump, albeit on specially groomed “snow bumps” and not the towering 295 feet (90 meters) ski jump that induces vertigo just by standing at the bottom of it.
Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre
Not all Olympic legacies are about thrill-seeking daredevilry. The Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre, winner of the National Cultural Tourism Award, offers a unique perspective on the area’s aboriginal heritage. The ultra-modern, LEED-certified, glass, steel and cedar structure was designed to evoke the lines of both a Squamish longhouse and a Lil’wat Istken (pit house). Inside, in addition to arts and crafts, interactive features encourage guests to try native drumming, basket weaving and even traditional dance. The café offers contemporary versions of traditional dishes like salmon candy, house-made pemmican, cedar jelly, bannock and venison stew.