Last Monday I was one of 20 lucky people to take part in a familiarization tour of the Olympic Park here in Whistler. I can safely say, without any hint of doubt, that this was one of the best experiences I’ve had while here. As many people already know you are totally spoiled for choice here in Whistler when it comes to activities so I had not even considered a day out to the Olympic Park until I received the invitation the week before. I jumped at the chance, and o how glad I was that I did! Two of us from the Summit Lodge & Spa went along, myself from the Front Desk Team and Helen, the Revenue and Reservations Manager/Whistler newest cross country enthusiast!
Cheap and Cheery
The Whistler Olympic Park is located in the stunning Callaghan Valley that is approximately 16km from Whistler village, an easy 30 min drive and it’s well worth the journey. The park will even provide transport in some cases, for a small fee, which is super convenient!
Fun things learnt
Monday 7th February was a beautiful day, a sunny blue sky and fluffy clouds were the backdrop for mine and Helen’s first ever time experiencing the Olympic Park and the Callaghan Valley, it was simply breathtaking.
Our tour started in the day lodge where the team at the Olympic Park gave us a brief introduction to the park facilities and what to expect for the day ahead, these people are so passionate about what they do, its inspiring! Melinda and Wayne explained all the different things that people can do at the park and also about its post-games potential, it was great to hear about their schools’ program which is working hard shaping Canada’s future athletes, as well as their rehabilitation programs for soldiers from all over the world.
Not only is this a top class cross country ski facility, you can snowshoe, book lessons, shoot a round of bullets (in a controlled environment of course!), you can walk around, you can have a fantastic lunch, an amazing hot chocolate… the list goes on.
And the Adventure Begins
As we went to get kitted out with our super skinny skis, we were slightly nervous about our first ever cross country experience, hugely excited about trying the Biathlon and a little reluctant to leave the cozy fireplace in the day lodge, needless to say we trooped on!
After being kitted out with the comfiest ski boots that have ever graced my feet we all had a giggle at each other trying to get used to standing on a slimmer ski, the group did amazingly however and soon enough we were all flying along. We were good enough to progress from the total beginners area to some of the twistier turns and the steeper hills! Wayne, our instructor, was very patient and informative, all of his tips came in very handy- especially when we attempted our first hill on a bend… Helen glided along gracefully, me… not used to the difference to downhill skiing yet, wiped out completely but apparently fell in the correct way, on my butt, always a pleasure!
Ahh! First time shooting!
We each got to practice a few shots, some of us even hit the target! It’s harder than it looks though, you are holding a rifle weighing 3.5kg and with your heart beating so fast, you can barely hold it still! Bob Marley was playing in the background, I wonder if that was their way of trying to chill out excited visitors shooting a gun for the first time… or maybe that’s just how they roll down at the Olympic Park, cool as cucumbers,! So you can only imagine how we all felt about the subsequent relay that we participated in, in teams of 5 we each had to race to the shooting lanes, take our best shots and do the forfeit laps for any targets missed… although our penalty laps weren’t quite as long as the penalties the Olympians had to make, thankfully!
Big thumbs up to an awesome experience!
Kudos to Wayne and his team who made sure everyone had a smile on their face! And I suppose I must congratulate Helen and her team on their spectacular win… those girls and boys at the Visitor Centre certainly must eat their spinach!
After the exhilarating thrill that was the Biathlon experience we then had the opportunity to put our new found skiing skills to the test in exploring the park ourselves. We weren’t quite the pros we would have liked to be so we pretty much stuck to the Neverland trail which is one of the green trails in the park. This trail was really pretty, it had some ups and downs and fast corners. I must doff my cap to cross country skiers the world over, what a workout, I commend you! The Callaghan Valley has approximately 90km of groomed cross country ski trails which will definitely occupy any level or technique of skier, not only that, you can even bring your favorite canine companion with you to ski certain areas of the park.
With snowshoeing trails, a backcountry lodge, snowmobiling, spectacular views & staff the Callaghan Valley & Olympic Park certainly has it all. I left with a slight hint of job envy, who wouldn’t, these guys work everyday at something they so clearly love AND they get to shoot a gun every day!
So we spent a few hours experiencing the Olympic Park here in Whistler, I have a feeling however that what we did and saw was only the tip of a huge iceberg. From learning how to cross country ski to shooting a rifle for the first time ever, this was a day I will never forget! So a huge thank you to Melinda and Wayne at the Olympic Park, you have unleashed a rediscovered love for the snow in these two girls from the Summit Lodge! This is an experience I will definitely recommend to visitors, locals, friends and family! O… and the parking is free…