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No 1: Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resort, Canada

Whistler Blackcomb (TSX: WB) is a major ski resort located 125 km north of Vancouver, in British Columbia, Canada. By many measures it is the largest ski resort in North America; it is 50% larger than its nearest competitor in terms of size, has the greatest uphill lift capacity, and until 2009, had the highest vertical skiable distance by a wide margin. Whistler Blackcomb also features the Peak 2 Peak Gondola for moving between Whistler and Blackcomb mountains at the top; Peak 2 Peak holds records for the highest and longest unsupported cable car span in the world. With all of this capacity, Whistler Blackcomb is also often the most-visited ski resort, often besting 2 million visitors a year.

Whistler Blackcomb Sli Resort

Whistler was originally conceived as part of a bid to win the 1968 Winter Olympics, but a series of events led to the bids being withdrawn or losing to other cities. Construction of the resort started in spite of this, and the resort first opened for business in February 1966. The resort expanded extensively in the 1980s and 90s, becoming the centrepiece of a renewed bid on the part of nearby Vancouver. Vancouver/Whistler was selected as the winning bid for the 2010 Winter Olympics in July 2003. Whistler Blackcomb hosted the alpine skiing events, including the men's and women's Olympic and Paralympic alpine skiing disciplines of downhill, Super-G, giant slalom, super combined and slalom. The Dave Murray downhill course towards Whistler Creekside finally hosted an Olympic downhill event, 50 years after it was originally surveyed for this purpose.

Whistler and Blackcomb were originally separate resorts, until they merged in 1997. Intrawest, the BC real estate firm that developed Blackcomb, purchased Whistler and merged the two operations. Over the next decade, the company expanded by purchasing additional ski resorts across North America, before expanding into golf and other resorts as well. Today, Intrawest owns ten ski resorts, another ten getaway resorts (mostly beachside) and two heliskiing companies. Whistler Village, widely recognized for its livable design, formed the basis of similar Tyrolian-inspired developments at their expanding series of resorts, as well as other resorts that hired Intrawest to build similar developments on their behalf. Intrawest resorts share a common recognizable style.

Whistler Blackcomb Sli Resort

In 2006 Intrawest was purchased by the alternative asset management firm, Fortress Investment Group. Three weeks before the opening of the 2010 Olympics, Fortress failed to make payment on its loan used to buy out Intrawest. This caused its creditors to force Intrawest to divest itself of several of its resort holdings in 2009 and 2010 which includes Whistler Blackcomb, in order to reduce its debt load.

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