Olympic-Caliber Gear... From Vancouver

Games? What Games? We're talking gear here, in particular the awesome ski equipment coming out of Vancouver.
Arc'teryx Sidewinder

When it comes to ski-equipment meccas, there’s Park City, Utah; Boulder, Colorado; and, Vancouver, Canada. Home to Arc’teryx, Westcomb, and Prior, these Vancouver-based brands are leading the charge in innovative gear technology and design.

Take Arc’teryx, a local company that got its start in 1991 making rock-climbing harnesses, and has since evolved into an industry leader turning out stellar outdoor apparel, equipment, and accessories year after year. “Our brand was born and raised and is still growing its roots in Vancouver,” explains Arc’teryx CEO Tyler Jordan. “We rely on our local contacts, a group of hardcore athletes, and our employees—we’re all gear junkies—to give immediate feedback to help us grow and develop the brand.”

Using state-of-the-art materials, construction methods, and a style-y aesthetic, Arc’teryx appeals equally to hardcore skiers as to mainstream mountain lovers. In fact, Arc’teryx’s gear is so good, some of Vancouver’s police are now outfitted in the brand’s LEAF (Law Enforcement Armed Forces) line. And with two full-time colorists on staff, the brand has revolutionized the world of color in ski apparel. Gone are the days of black, yellow, and red jackets à la North Face 1995; in are outer shells splashed with shades like Big Sky blue and Bud green.

It’s not just the city’s proximity to the outdoors that influences local gear companies; it’s also Vancouver’s thriving cosmopolitanism, fashion scene, and underground culture. Alan Yiu, CEO and creative director of Westcomb, a local ski apparel brand, just looks to his city for ideas. “I look at architecture and buildings. Anything that makes me stop in my tracks and wonder what the process was to create it is a source of inspiration to me.” And Westcomb’s vibe reflects Yiu’s—and Vancouver’s— modern sensibility: funky, fresh, and sleek.

Vancouver is also home to award-winning “microbrew” ski and snowboard manufacturer Prior. What started in 1990 with founder Chris Prior making snowboards in his North Vancouver garage has turned into one of the world’s top producers of handcrafted snow equipment.

In 2000 Prior moved its factory to Whistler, and having one of North America’s premiere resorts in its backyard translates into primo powder skis and boards made for big-mountain ripping. Want to build the ski of your dreams? Prior can customize tricked-out features, graphics, and top sheets. A tour of the factory in Whistler makes for a killer off-piste adventure. However, if the snow is good, you may find the place empty.

Though it’s doubtful the IOC had local gear companies in mind when it picked Vancouver to host the 2010 Winter Games, it’s no coincidence that the city claims Olympic-caliber gear as its own.


Nothing to see here but free concerts, free outdoor theater, and huge screens broadcasting all 17 days of Olympic events. The official parties last until 11:30, culminating in a nightly “fire and ice” show, but count on late nights, especially given that some restaurants are expected to be open around the clock. Whistler’s official Olympic website, whistlerblackcomb.com/olympics, has all the info you’ll need.The mountains may be empty but when you ski back to the village, expect the same kind of pulse you associate with a vibrant city. Other than the media and medal-presentation areas, the village is free of security barricades. You can walk, mingle, and party with the world. There's a reason Whistler was voted Best Nightlife in our 2010 Resort Awards.

An Olympic Guide: The Best Après Spots in Whistler

So you’re heading to the Olympics in Whistler. Be prepared for deep snow (they’re already reporting one of the best seasons on record), world-class terrain, sporting, and revelry. Whether you’re celebrating an American victory or kicking up your boots after a day on the hill, Whistler’s watering holes elevate après to an Olympic level. Here’s a guide to the best après spots in Whistler.


An Olympic Guide: Best Breakfasts in Whistler

Whether you’re recovering from a late night of revelry or gearing up for a big day on the hill, here’s a guide to Whistler’s best breakfast spots. Check them out if you're heading to the Winter Olympic Games later this month.

Bahrke embraces Kearney after her gold-medal run.Team FirstOne of the challengers was teammate Heather McPhie, who fell on course and tumbled in the standings. Bharke was waiting at the bottom with a hug.It’s easy to offer support from the top, but Bahrke had more hugs for Kearney after her gold-medal run, knocking her teammate off-balance with her enthusiasm.“I whispered—well, probably not whispered but yelled—you just won the Olympics! I didn’t know what the judges were going to do. I said if they didn’t reward her for it, it was ridiculous,” Bahrke says.

Winter Olympics 2010: Closing Time

After two weeks of heated competition, foggy weather, and some surprising victories, the Vancouver Winter Olympics are officially over. Here's a gallery of images to wrap up the Games, showcasing everything from powder skiing at Whistler to Julia Mancuso in action to behind-the-scenes with Bode Miller.

Tucker enjoys pats on the head, chasing balls, and avalanche rescue operations.The ladies love Tucker. So do the grown men, children of all ages, and anyone with a camera phone or a spare hand. I’m riding up the Gold Coast Funitel at Squaw Valley with the golden retriever and his handler, ski patroller Pete York, and I’m learning that it’s hard to conduct an interview when you’re seated next to a good-looking dog. But Tucker is more than just York’s best friend and the darling of Squaw visitors. He is also trained in avalanche rescue, which is why he and York have been invited to assist the Canadian Avalanche Rescue Dog Association (CARDA) with security operations at the Vancouver Olympics. Four other canines of the Squaw Valley Avalanche Rescue Dog Team and four more handlers will travel with them.

Squaw Dogs Head to Vancouver Olympics

Tucker is your typical golden retriever who likes to roll in the snow and chase balls. He and his owner, Pete York of the Squaw Valley Ski Patrol, also work together on avalanche rescue operations and will travel to the 2010 Vancouver Olympics to assist with security. By Olivia Dwyer