Whistler Takes Big Leap Toward 2010 Games

Not for the faint of heart

Whistler Blackcomb's new "Peak 2 Peak" gondola opens to the public Friday ushering in the first of many marvels in preparation for the Winter Olympic Games in 2010.

The gondola is not for the faint of heart or for those with fear of heights.  It is the highest gondola in the world, uniting Whistler and the Blackcomb Mountains.  It is 1,427 feet above the valley floor.

Along with being the highest, the Peak 2 Peak is also the world's longest gondola, taking skiers 4.4 kilometers (2.73 miles) in just 11 minutes.

Click here to see video of opening.

"This is going to be an unprecedented winter for Whistler Blackcomb," said Dave Brownlie, President and Chief Operating Officer of Whistler Blackcomb. "The grand opening of the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola will forever change the skiing experience here. This adds to the momentum and excitement of the one-year countdown to the 2010 Games. We’re heading into one unforgettable season."

It is set to become a new Canadian tourism icon and will change forever the way visitors experience the two mountains. 

Before today, skiers would have to sky down the mountain before taking another lift to the top on the other side.  

It specifically connects Whistler’s Roundhouse Lodge to the Rendezvous Lodge on Blackcomb.

The terrain between both mountains spans 8,171 acres. It also has claim to the world's longest continuous lift system.

It will run year round, providing spectacular views for summer visitors.

The gondola is just one of the new venues coming to Whistler Blackcomb in preparation for the Olympic games, which are just one winter away.

The mountains will host men's and women's Olympic and Paralympic alpine skiing, downhill, super-g, giant slalom, slalom and super combined races.

Improvements also include new snowmaking technology.  That project has been under way since 2006.

The snowmaking bill alone tops $17.6 million.

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