Down the half-pipe: A look at Whistler Blackcomb, owner of famed ski hill resort

WHISTLER, B.C. – Whistler Blackcomb Holdings, the owner of the famed Whistler Blackcomb ski hill resort in B.C., is being taken over by Vail Resorts, a mountain resort operator based in Broomfield, Colo. Here’s a quick look at Whistler Blackcomb:

History: A group of businessmen from Vancouver led by Franz Wilhelmsen established Garibaldi Lifts Limited in 1960 in the hopes of developing an alpine ski area on London Mountain. That mountain was later renamed Whistler Mountain in tribute to a local marmot that whistled. In January 1966, the hill opened to the public, featuring a four-person gondola, a double chairlift, two T-bars and a day lodge.

Tale of the Tape: Whistler Blackcomb employs about 3,800 people. Its resort features more than 100 marked runs, a mile-high vertical drop and 1,925 hectares of skiable area — about five times the size of Vancouver’s Stanley Park.

The Buyer: Vail Resorts operates nine mountain resorts and two ski areas in Colorado, Utah, California, Nevada, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan and Australia.

Interesting Fact: From royalty to pot-smoking Olympians, many have graced Whistler’s hills, including Prince William, Demi Moore, Ashton Kutcher and Ross Rebagliati, the world’s first snowboard gold medallist at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Japan.