On this clear July morning, Blackcomb's base area is filling up. Coaches and technicians, patrollers and lift attendants mill about the Solar Coaster lift. Everyone here seems to know everyone else.
It's not surprising. In the summertime, Whistler/ Blackcomb is the crossroads of the alpine universe: halfpipe stars and new school skiing heroes, Olympic downhill champions and World Cup mogul veterans all pass through here between June and August. The area hosts more than 40 summer training camps. Lifts run 7:30 am to 3:30 pm, with open public skiing starting at noon.
"The glacier is an amazing place for getting the scoop on what's happening in the business," says big-air guru Shane Szocs. "Companies come here to test new products. Athletes come here to develop new moves. This is definitely the place to be in June and July."
Not halfway up the Solar Coaster lift, a skier spots a big black bear sow with two young cubs in tow. Instantly, the excited exclamations of a coaching foursome from Japan can be heard. For most Asian visitors, says racing coach Keiji Ogawa, a bear sighting is a sign of a successful Canadian holiday.
Bears or not, by 9 am, Horstman Glacier is buzzing with activity. Race courses are set, moguls and jumping ramps are smoothed out, and halfpipes are ready for action. Colorful tents advertising everything from skis to energy bars dot the hillside. There is definitely a feeling of festival here.
Bumpers, boardheads, new-schoolers and gate-bashers share the area peacefully. "The scene has really changed in recent years," says veteran camp director Stephanie Sloan Murray. "It wasn't that long ago that ski camps were a ski racing thing. Now everyone's doing summer camps."
At one of the halfpipes, teens (and teen-wannabes) throw themselves into the air, each trying to outdo the other. "You get more from a two-week camp here than you do from a whole season of riding at home," says New York rider Tina Maelink. "Great coaching, excellent conditions and really fun riders to train with. It's all there for the taking. You can't help but improve."
2000 Closing Date August 7
Summer Terrain Horstman Glacier offers 112 acres and nearly 1,000 feet of vertical on which to train, jump or play. The glacier also features an extensive network of halfpipes and terrain parks.
Lift Ticket $25, noon to close.
Don't Miss The summer nightlife. Whether it's grabbing an evening beer on the patio at Cittas, or dancing the night away at Maxx Fish or Tommy Africa's, Whistler in the summertime is a very social place.
Contact (800) 766-0449; http://www.whistler-blackcomb.com "> www.whistler-blackcomb.com