Whistler’s Unfair Advantage

by Jody Morris

For a lot of cities, getting a permanent skatepark is a struggle that take years. Meetings with city council and park board members combined with hours and hours of canvassing and pleading might lead to a promise of consideration for a park. Those who have endured this process or wished for a park should probably turn away¿you won’t find it amusing that Whistler, British Columbia’s locals, unsatisfied with just their large-scale snakerun and bowl park, decided they needed a new street park, and all they had to do was ask.

Hurts, doesn’t it?

For lack of better way to say it, Whistler locals are spoiled. They just asked, and now they have one of British Columbia’s best new parks joined to one of B.C.’s best existing parks. Not exactly fair, is it?

In fact, how about adding some insult to your injury?

Unsatisfied with their new incredible street park, the poor deprived skaters of Whistler have decided they also need a vert ramp as well as some expansions to the current street setup. So look for those additions very soon, as precedent shows all they have to do is ask.

As bitter as I’m sounding, the locals actually put a lot into their park. The city gave them the land, but all of the manpower needed to build the park was homegrown. Designed and overseen by local skater Jim Barnum, the park grew from locals’ input and the idea to make a park that encompasses a wide variety of terrain.

In Whistler, the standard pyramid/ledge combos are joined by vert quarterpipes, bowled corners, and spines. Both ends of the park are joined by pump-bump trails to the bowl park a few hundred feet away. The lines that are possible here exist nowhere else. Something for everyone, one might say.

Places like Whistler Skatepark, where locals are actually allowed to design and oversee their own park, end up with something that won’t become either obsolete or simply unused in a year’s time. This is the main difference between Whistler and other cities, where park planners design the parks by looking at parks designed by planners instead of skaters. If you only ask little kids what they want, your park will only be of use to little kids, and those little kids who desperately pleaded for certain features to be built will have outgrown them in six months anyway.

So if you want a park that will be of use to all and enjoyed for years to come, you have to trust the opinion and skills of those who have been around for awhile¿it is from them that you get the best combination of obstacles.

(Whistler Skatepark is located in Whistler Village, British Columbia, two hours north of Vancouver on Highway 99; it’s free, and lights make it possible to skate at night.)