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WHISTLER BLACKCOMB
NOW: Skiing's top-ranked North American resort has two distinct mountains, Whistler and Blackcomb. To spin a lap between the two, skiers must head down a series of blue and green runs on Blackcomb, and then take a gondola and a quad to the top of Whistler Mountain - about an hourlong trip.
LATER: If the resort gets the $40 million it needs, a gondola spanning the Fitzsimmons Valley would connect Whistler and Blackcomb at mid-mountain as soon as 2007.
WHAT IT MEANS FOR SKIERS: With the new gondola, skiers could do laps on the tops of both peaks, avoiding the lower portions of each mountain. Or, adds Whistler local Rejean "Rage" Amirault: "Sometimes the conditions are different on each peak. With the gondola, if you don't like the snow on Whistler, you could be on Blackcomb in 10 minutes."


SNOWBIRD
NOW: From the base area, the easiest way to reach upper Peruvian Gulch (on the front side) and Mineral Basin (on the back side) is to ride Snowbird's tram. At peak times, the wait can be an hour.
LATER: By the 2006-07 season, a 600-foot tunnel will connect Peruvian Gulch and Mineral Basin. Skiers will be able to access the tunnel (and the basin) from a high-speed quad that'll start at the base and replace the Peruvian lift. The 12-foot-high, 10-foot-wide artery will carry skiers on a one-way, 600-foot-long conveyor carpet into Mineral Basin.
WHAT IT MEANS FOR SKIERS: Less traffic - on the tram and on the ridge. "If I saw a big tram line and no line on the new Peruvian, I'd take it to the tunnel, then back to Mineral Basin," says local photographer Lee Cohen. "Now that I think about it, that sounds pretty good."

MARCH/APRIL 2006

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