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A ski expert's secret tips to Whistler and Vancouver
I first met Jeremy Neill a few years ago when he was a product manager for Fresh Tracks, a Vancouver-based tour operator that specializes in Canada and Alaska. Born in Bath, England, Neill has lived in Vancouver for the past three years. Though he's the first to say he's not a native, Neill does have the inside scoop on the local ski scene--armed with 15 years of snowboarding experience, Neill is the author of The Mad Dog Ski guide to Whistler (maddogski.com).
Q: What are some après-ski spots in Whistler where you might see someone famous?
A: The Brewhouse at Whistler is the one of the closest to the Medals Plaza so that might have the best chance of seeing an athlete. The liveliest places are the Longhorn Saloon & Grill in Skiers Plaza, which has the best views of the Whistler runs, and Merlins at Blackcomb, which is known for its huge nachos and as a place to party.
Q: And for Vancouver?
A: That's tough as there are so many options in downtown Vancouver. A lot of people are hoping to access the "houses" where sponsors and partners are hosting parties and events. Widely anticipated is the Holland Heineken House at the Richmond Ozone. Downtown Vancouver has two Live Sites: LiveCity Downtown and LiveCity Yaletown. These outdoor celebration sites are free to enter. You can see live coverage and short films on giant screens, view exhibits from Canadian artists, and enjoy some local food and drinks.
A: Definitely book rentals in advance. Some rental shops are open in the evening, so you can go and get your kit in advance. Lift tickets can be bought online, and discount day tickets are available in local 7-Elevens.
Q: What's the local beverage of choice after a long day on the slopes?
A: The drink I go for often depends on the time of year. In January I like the Amsterdam Cafe as they have warm alcoholic toddies with a view of people on the village stroll. After a day of spring riding, an ice-cold beer is always refreshing. This is not hard to come by in Whistler. Any of the bars at the base of Blackcomb or Whistler are a great spot.
Q: Is there a beautiful ski run that even beginners can handle and shouldn't miss?
A: Ego Bowl on Whistler is a favorite with beginners. It's an easy pitch and has brilliant views on a clear day. The Emerald Express Chair lift slows nicely at the top with a flat run out, so it's easy to get off. It can get busy though, especially if the chairs at higher elevation are not running.