An Eastbournian Abroad with Ashley McMillan: The end of one mountain... for now anyway!

Unofficially known as the end of the winter ski season in Whistler, the TELUS Ski and Snowboard Festival finished last Sunday with its usual bang.

A nine day festival full of tricks, showdowns and some of the best athletes on display, this speaks nothing to mention the continuous bands and performers on various stages (mostly all free) to keep everyone rocking throughout. So how do we celebrate the end of this festival? We close Whistler Mountain as operations plan toward clearing the downhill bike park’s trail of the thousands of feet of snow within the next few weeks.

Now don’t worry, there’s an embarrassment of riches available when it comes to skiing options with Blackcomb Mountain still open for another five weeks, then there’s always the summer glacier camps, but that’s another story! For now, the diggers are slowly coming out to start clearing the case of the bike park and the municipal workers are typically hard at work and busy clearing the gravel and sand off all the grassed and flowerbed areas – It’s nice to see the grass again!

Unfortunately (depending on one’s point of view), now that the festival has been and gone, the town is a little quiet. Sure, there really is still plenty of great skiing to come over the next 5 weeks or so, but the numbers in town right now, really are quite low and although some may se this as an opportunity to take a deep breathe and relax for once, it is also a necessary evil for many businesses to reduce their wage bill and cut back on the amount of hours staff members receive. Just good business sense right?! It is, however, a great time to get up the mountain and ski almost anywhere pretty much unchallenged by any other skiers as we have these huge hills back to ourselves once again.

It’s not so dead around here that the tumbleweed is passing through of course. Whistler has gotten pretty adept at generating year round income by actively seeking other resources in the resorts quieter ‘shoulder’ seasons. Now, you’ve probably mostly all heard or seen the ‘American Pie’ films that navigate us through some senior high’s exploits into their ‘adulthood.

You may then also remember the reference to and scenes of ‘Band camp’. Yep, these really do exist, so all together now then… “So one time, at band camp….”. From what I’ve seen over the last few years, not everyone is quite as troublesome as the gang in the films, but we have our fair share of these kids coming into town over the next week or so. That’s right, hundreds of high pitched, whinny, pimple faced kids running around town under the ‘supervision’ of a few adults, all with faor to much sugar in them. Gotta love these guys!

There’s also a certain attraction for conferences to be held up here in Whistler and it’s in no small thanks to many of these meetings, conferences and other groups into Whistler that businesses are able to sustain themselves.

So every week as we head into the snow free season, I tend to reference the local wildlife and in the interest of consistency, this week should be no different. Now, thankfully no cougars have been spotted around here over the last week or so (I’m sure they haven’t magically disappeared either, but what one can’t see...), but I’m hearing more and more tales of bear sightings.

Of course I’m gutted that I’ve yet to see any of these loveable guys, especially as I spend so much time running around the Whistler valley trails and roads, although I have seen quite a number of their ‘little’ early morning deposits along the trails. They will come and it will surely now only be a matter of weeks before I’m bumping into them. Can’t wait! These guys truly brighten up my day and if I were to ever leave this part of the world, they would be one huge part of this place that I would miss.

For now, I’m entering a rather frustrating week or so as I get stuck into my marathon taper. This is also the worst part of training for any race for me. I’m a runner and well, all I want to do is run. So the prescription (based on some very scientific but hugely varying results) of reducing my running and training down in an effort to regroup, allow muscle and tissue to heal and strengthen and build up my glycogen stores, is extremely well understood on my part but not appreciated in the least bit. I’m an addict guys. Try asking me to not run for several days is like grounds for divorce (is it actually??), or at least will be the cause of some tension around the house as I become more and more frustrated like a caged animal – sad but true. God bless my wife!

So just as a true test to my ‘trouble and strife’, let’s see if she’s reading this…

Happy anniversary Mrs!