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​President's Message

February 2018

The club just got back from Whistler/Blackcomb in British Columbia, Canada.  Overall, I thought it was an awesome trip.  We arrived Saturday night in Vancouver, after being stuck in Chicago for an hour longer due to some fuel/weight issues on the plane.  That was pretty annoying.  What else was annoying was being stuck in customs in Canada.  Apparently, they seemed to like me so well that they wanted to get to know me better.  Hoping to meetup with the rest of the group after getting my luggage, I get sent into their "special" room to get interviewed and my luggage searched.  I finally get through that fun, thrills and follies only to find my group left without me.  I was able to jump on a bus with the Pentagon club and got up there to Whistler/Blackcomb.  It was cool to get to see Mike Bailey again as well as hanging out with Rae and Scott.  Also, the accommodations where actually pretty nice, plus it was ski-in, ski-out.  I was at Whistler/Blackcomb 15 years ago, and I remember actually riding up that Wizard lift and seeing the pool and thinking "How cool it would be to get to stay right there off the slopes, but figured it was way to expensive and I would not be able to afford that!"  And here we were 15 years later and actually staying there!

The first day of skiing (Sunday, Feb 4) dawned with a bit of rain in the morning but there was snow farther up the mountain.  That all quit and turned out to be a really good day of skiing overall.  I pretty much stayed on the lower part of Blackcomb mountain as I wanted to get a feel for the conditions.  I got out a little late due to trying to recover after the very long day before.  The condos we stayed at included a free breakfast, especially as I did not get to stop at a grocery store on the way up to get anything.  By the time I got in from skiing the Super Bowl was already half over.  At least I did not have to listen to Justin Timberlake screeching out some annoying, banal, crappy pop song during the half-time show. The game overall was pretty close, but the Eagles managed to pull one out ahead of the Patriots (and thus maintaining the Steelers record of most Super Bowls won ).

Day two of skiing (Monday, Feb 5) also started out a pretty good and this time I managed to get over to Whistler to explore a that a bit.  Having been there 15 years prior, once I saw some of this terrain, I started to remember skiing some of that.  Now, I am a much better skiing and in much better shape than I was 15 years ago, so I got to really appreciate a lot more of the terrain.  I took the Peak Express up to the top at Whistler, but it was so dang socked in up there that I could not see anything!

Day three (Tuesday, Feb 6), was the race so Mike, Scott, Rae, and I pretty much stayed in that area off the Jersey Cream lift until it was our turn to take our runs at the race course.  Speaking of the race, I think this was the first time a in a few years that the Fredericksburg Club came up empty in the medals and awards.  Usually we managed to at least take home one of the participation awards as well as a couple of us managing a medal in our age groups, but not this year.  As usual, it seems nearly all the awards went to Columbia, Pentagon, Baltimore, and Richmond.  I lost track of where the others went so I went off and explored other parts of the mountain.  I spent alot of time over in that new Symphony bowl (it was new as of 2010, and not there the last time I skied there), but again, the fog and low visibility made it difficult to really see.

Day four (Wednesday, Feb 7), was another wet day, plus the winds were ridiculous farther up.  I did not even attempt going up the peak express at Whistler due to the wind and low visibility conditions!  In fact, that ended being closed anyway due to the conditions.  The top of the Harmony Express was getting pounded with wind and snow as well.  Again, spent most of the time over in Symphony Bowl where things where a little better.  We also started out early, taking advantage this "Fresh Tracks" thing they had.  Got to board the Whistler Gondola at 7:15 in the morning and had an excellent breakfast before heading out skiing before pretty much everyone else.

Day five (Thursday, Feb 8), started out cloudy, and this time we finally got over to Seventh Heaven,  The upper part was socked in, but the fog lifted fairly quickly once the sun came out and gave out some incredible conditions.  Also the mountain got crowded. By my third run over there in the Seventh Heaven area, it was getting ridiculous with the crowds.  I decided to sneak around to the backside of the mountain from the top of Seventh Heaven lift and dropped down into the Blackcomb glacier.  That was awesome back there with excellent snow.  By that time I got skiing that I went in for lunch.  I could not find the rest of the group, especially in that crowd, but just as I was heading out to put my skis back on, I found Mike, Scott, Connie, and Jill and spent the afternoon skiing with them.  The upper part of the mountain had really good conditions, but the  lower part was getting really icy and skied off.  In other words, typical conditions that I deal with all the time at Massanutten.

Day six (Friday, Feb 9), was, by far, the best skiing in terms of weather and conditions.  It was pretty much bluebird, but holy crap, those crowds were getting stupid!  I tried to stay up as far as I could were it is typically not as crowded due to the fact that it is pretty much all expert terrain up there.   I must've skied down that Whistler Bowl at least four times that day, and also managed to sneak a run on the Blackcomb Glacier right before that closed.  We also took advantage of the "Fresh Tracks" breakfast again Friday morning.  Unfortunately, on the way up, got stuck on the Gondola for the better part of 15 to 20 minutes.  That was easily a run or two that I could've gotten in.

Saturday morning we departed (and it was depressing seeing that gorgeous bluebird weather and all the people going out to ski, but the mountain was probably ridiculously crowded anyway) and headed back to Vancouver.  It was cool to get to spend an afternoon/evening in Vancouver proper as I've never been there. Me and Rae decided to try that hop-on/hop-off tour trolley/bus thing, but unfortunatly, it was getting pretty late in the afternoon, so there was not much time to really do anything.  Looking back, I should've just saved the $45 CAD and rented a bicycle and rode around town or down in that really cool Stanley Park they have there, or just followed Scott's lead and just walked around town and go exploring.  Still was a neat overall look at the city and I really hope to one day get to visit some more, especially for a longer time.  I will admit that I was also very tempted to want to get my skis out and check out the local mountain that was right there near Vancouver, especially since all three had night skiing.  However, I did not want to hassle with getting my skis and equipment all back out and then having to figure out how to get up there and back.

Then Sunday morning was an early one as we had to depart back to reality.  Get back home to be greated with nearly 70 degree weather.  Gotta love Virginia in the winter.   Anyway, despite some of the challenging weather conditions we had in the earlier part of the trip, overall, I had an awesome time and got 6 solid days of skiing in.  I stayed on the mountain until I was pretty much forced to leave due to all the lifts being closed.  According to my ski tracking app, I also managed to clock in nearly 180,000 feet of vertical over the 6 days of skiing.  Will I go back to Whistler/Blackcomb again?  In a heartbeat!

As for club business, the next general meeting will be Wednesday, February 21 over at The Pub.  Also, there is that very nice trip to Les Trois Vallee in France that is still coming up.  How I so wish I could go as that really does look like it will be an awesome trip.

Hope to see you at the meeting. ​

Your President,

Steven Konopa