December 16, 2006
WHISTLER, BC - (News Release) - Whistler Blackcomb opened their new Symphony Express high speed detachable quad on December 16 for scores of eager skiers and riders. The new lift, accessing 1,000 acres of pristine alpine bowls and gladed sub-alpine forest filled with thigh deep snow, began turning shortly after 11am.
Grand opening celebrations included an official ribbon cutting ceremony with Gordon Hogg, the Province of British Columbia's Minister of State for ActNow BC, and Whistler Blackcomb's Chief Operating Officer, David Brownlie.
"This new lift is a sign of the evolution and development of British Columbia as we move towards hosting the Winter Olympics in 2010," says Hogg. "On behalf of the Premier and all British Columbians I would like to thank Whistler Blackcomb for their contributions towards the province's goal of increasing tourism."
Coming in at a cool $9.2 million, the new Doppelmayr lift transports guests 6,929 feet (2,112 metres) and climbs 1,670 vertical feet (509 vertical metres) to the peak of Piccolo at 6,673 feet (2,034 metres). Panoramic views of Garibaldi Provincial Park and views across to Blackcomb Mountain are available from the summit.
A series of strong Pacific storms have blanketed the area with 61cms/24" in the last 48 hours. Skiers and riders carved their inaugural lines into the unbroken powder that filled the 1,000 acres of intermediate and advanced terrain in the newly crowned Symphony Amphitheatre. The terrain encompasses steep alpine bowls and cruising groomers filled with gentle rollers and forested tree clusters, all leading to the final pitch where trails meander through the magical Coast Mountain forest back to the Symphony Express base.
"Aesthetically and ecologically, the trail design of the Symphony Amphitheatre has mimicked the natural growth of the sub alpine forest in a way that works really well with nature," says Derek Bonin, a registered professional forester who advises on watershed planning initiatives. Bonin was a key expert in the development of the Symphony trails and has ski-toured through this area over the past two decades. "Trees at this altitude naturally cluster and with time, grow into thick forested areas to create a protected growing climate. Whistler Blackcomb has thinned out these areas to create a wonderful intermediate gladed experience, but without upsetting the natural ecosystem. The habitat is maintained; young trees have the ability to continue to grow and older trees to die."
A team of highly experienced planners and engineers are credited for the development of this project. "Special thanks needs to go to the team at Ecosign Mountain Resort Planners in Whistler, who were instrumental in the early stages of trail design, Whistler Blackcomb's Arthur DeJong who interpreted the theoretical design into the actual field design and, of course the whole team at Doppelmayr who worked with us throughout this process," says Doug Forseth, Whistler Blackcomb's senior vice president of operations. "In addition, a number of key individuals at Whistler Blackcomb as well as a variety of local contractors have applied their expertise, passion and tireless dedication to this project. We could not have done this without them."