An Eastbournian Abroad with Ashley McMillan: Powder for opening day ... yes please!

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I predicted, it was a bunch of teenage school kids that were first in the line up and waiting for the first gondola of the new ski season and who had camped out over night, just for the privilege. These kids were no more than 14 years old, so what were the parents thinking?? It was frigid cold that night as well!! Like I’ve said previously, it’s just a mindset out in these parts – apparently some parents actually allow their offspring 5-6 ‘sick’ ski days off from their schooling. Others will allow little Johnny to avoid his double maths and history lessons on any given day when there’s been a fresh dump of 20cm or more (known as the ‘20cm rule’ which some employers adopt for their staff too)!

I can tell you this much about the opening day, although we have actually had more snow on the occasional year to greet everyone at the very beginning of the season, it’s not too often that you are blessed with a powder day and most of the early morning risers who formed a ridiculously long line up to got on the slopes first thing, had the opportunity to carve out fresh, untouched turns. Something which many would settle for any day of the week!

Since then we have had a bucket load of the beautiful white fluffy stuff (ok, so not always fluffy, sometimes a little ‘snotty’ as it comes down a little heavy – This actually forms a good base better!). It’s truly very hard to believe when you step out and look around to think that it’s still only approaching the end of November, the beginning of the winter season. The kids, big and small, old and young, have been simply lapping it up and quite frankly, they’ve rarely had it so good. We’ve already seen nearly 50% more than the ‘average’ November snowfall and there’ll be a lot more in the coming forecast to see.

Now, Blackcomb Mountain has also just opened and from what I’ve seen, heard and read across the various media sites, it’s been saving itself for everyone. Fair to say that most of the powder-hounds got exactly what they craved for. Always strategically opened to at the very least coincide with American Thanksgiving (November 24th this year) as this becomes a long weekend for most of those south of the border and a great opportunity for many to travel and getaway early in the season. This is also when the resort really kicks back into life as we see the hotel beds and restaurants filling up. It’s certainly not the height of the ‘business season’, but after several quiet weeks, possibly more, it brings a welcome relief to many business’ that have been hurting a little.

So what does Thanksgiving weekend look like here? Well, I know it’s a broad brush stroke, but expect to see many a turkey on the menu across the restaurants. This bird has long since been synonymous with this time of year, as has pumpkin pie. Now this little dessert number is definitely something that I’ve taken to in my time over this side of the ‘pond’. Bizarrely it’s not something I really remember spotting around the aisles of the supermarkets back in the UK, but trust me when I say that it’s an item you should consider adding over there. It’s also a time when many families come together over here. Yes, sometimes that stereotypical image of a bunch of guys sloped around their TV set watching a ball game and perhaps consuming an ale or two, whilst the dutiful women in the party tend to the food, can often be seen (or perhaps I’ve simply seen too much American television). However, those that travel to spend their time on the slopes, can and usually do have a different thought about how to spend their free time. OK, so you can have it all I guess – Ski or board the slopes for a good few hours, then come down for lunch and relax whilst watching the game. Just a different take on things I guess!

So now that we’re embarking on the official ‘opening weekend’ celebrations, the firework displays are on show and there’s a big hurrah surrounding this monumental day in the calendar…again. We’ve to look forward to all getting a few more hours paid work as the money comes back into town. Got to keep a roof over these kids heads right!

Next week sees the Whistler film festival roll into town and maybe, just maybe one or two stars of note. It’s quite the revered festival around here and there’s been much done to propel itself toward the top of the world’s renown premieres. You’ve probably all heard of the Cannes festival and possibly even the Toronto festival, well Whistler is hoping to eventually be mentioned in a similar breath. Yes it may be a little while before it’s truly seen as one of the premiere calendar events for all film buffs and industry workers, but it’s getting there. Just keep an eye out for us.

Happy thanksgiving to you all!